Kenya and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) inked an agreement that will see the UN agency support the rollout of the planned digital identity (Digital ID).
Under the deal which was signed in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, the UNDP will provide technical assistance and work with the government to mobilize funding and other resources to support the development and implementation of Digital ID.
"This is a crucial project and that is why we are leveraging the partnership and technical advice of UNDP to realize a solid fool-proof digital identity," Immigration and Citizen Services principal secretary Julius Bitok said.
The Digital ID will be the virtual digital identity for registered persons to support online authentication (using a scanner to pick out biometric features for instance).
According to Bitok, Kenya hopes to benefit from the UN's vast experience gained from supporting at least 25 countries across the world to develop their own digital ID systems. He said the partnership will be key to the implementation of the proposed Maisha Namba (life number) which will be the official name for the unique personal identifier (UPI) that will be integral to the Digital ID whose official launch is set for Oct. 2.
Maisha Namba will be a unique personal number assigned to each individual and that will be the personal identity number from birth to death.
Bitok said going digital with personal identity is also intended to make the country compliant with international standards on cross-border travel set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and other agencies.
UNDP Resident Representative in Kenya Anthony Ngororano described the Digital ID as the missing link between citizens and accessible digital services and said the UNDP was keen to support the government to bridge the gap.
He said the objectives of the ongoing digitalization of government services will only be achieved if there was a reliable and compatible personal identification system in place. "Onboarding 5,000 services online will not, of themselves, resolve development if important segments of the population are left out. And they will be left out if the Digital ID architecture does not have this at its center," Ngororano said.
The two officials said the partnership will also factor in the role of stakeholders and interest groups to ensure that the envisaged Digital ID gained from a broad inclusion of ideas and acceptance.
In addition, Kenya hopes to launch the Maisha Card which will be the document that will bear the Maisha Namba and will replace the current second-generation ID.
The government will also launch the National Master Population Register which will consolidate existing and independent databases into a single integrated register of data on Kenyans and foreigners resident in the country.