Kenyans to transact via iris scans, fingerprints by December: Ruto

Kenyans to transact via iris scans, fingerprints by December: Ruto

President William Ruto (L) is given a tour of the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya (EADAK) plant in Athi River, Machakos County during its official opening on October 30, 2023. | PHOTO: PCS

Kenyans will soon be scanning their irises and fingerprints to authenticate their identities when making transactions under the new digital ID.

President William Ruto on Monday said the government is piloting the digital identification system over the next two months before rolling it out to everyone in December.

“The digital ID, which has been a major problem to us for a very long time is now on testing mode for the next two months. I have been assured by all the stakeholders and the ministries concerned that by December we will be able to launch digital IDs,” Ruto said during the launch of the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya plant in Athi River, Machakos County.

“... Where every Kenyan doesn’t need to carry any paper, plastic or anything else as an ID. They should be able to be identified digitally using their IDs or fingerprints and we can transact without the necessity of people struggling to identify who they are.”

The digital ID is being introduced alongside the Maisha Namba. It was set to be unveiled by President Ruto on October 2 before the government called it off on September 29, citing “unavoidable circumstances”.

Maisha Namba will serve as a unique personal identification number assigned to Kenyan citizens upon registration, typically at birth. This number will become their lifelong personal identity number from birth to death.

For newborns, Maisha Namba will also serve as their birth certificate number, facilitating registration in educational institutions, NHIF, and transitioning to an ID number once they reach 18 years of age.

It will also function as their Personal Identification Number (PIN) for accessing various government services, including KRA, NSSF, NHIF, and NEMIS throughout their lifetime.

According to the government, this master database will manage data for all registered citizens, refugees, and foreigners using fingerprint biometric technology, enhancing data accuracy and reliability.

"It will consolidate existing independent databases into a single integrated register, serving as the central reference for all data related to Kenyan citizens and foreign residents in the country," Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok previously explained.

On the other hand, the digital ID will be a digital representation of an individual, organization, or device, typically encompassing personal attributes, credentials, and authentication.

Maisha card, which will bear Maisha Namba, will essentially be a third-generation ID that will replace the current second-generation ID. It will have enhanced security features, including a microprocessor electronic chip with encrypted data, rendering forgery and manipulation nearly impossible.

The card will feature a photo image of the applicant, an ID number, a card serial number, biometric data, biographic data, residential particulars, and advanced security elements.


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