Maisha digital ID to help enhance equity, says PS Bitok

Prof Julius Bitok, Immigration and Citizen Services PS (centre), when he visited the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Digital Economy stand at NADPA conference where we are displaying our publications. Our Marketing officer Phibian Tanui (second left) was part of the team that received the PS.

The Principal Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, Prof Julius Bitok, has said that the recently introduced digital ID, known as Maisha Card, would help to eliminate marginalisation in the country.

Prof Bitok said the identity that is issued at birth for newborns and those who attain 18 years has done away with roadblocks that many people, especially in border regions, used to encounter when seeking Identity Cards.

“With Maisha Card, we don’t need Vetting Committees, the reason why we have done away with them. The Maisha number will be used by citizens in their entire lives,” said Prof Bitok, who was speaking at the ongoing Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA) Conference in Nairobi.

He noted that digital ID is at the foundation and core of every nation. “The Maisha Card is enhancing security and interoperability across the government,” he said.

He observed that the card has several components namely Maisha Number for newborns, Maisha Card which is issued to people when they attain 18 years and Maisha Digital for digital identity.

There is also the Maisha integrated database where private sector can check and confirm citizens’ data, explained Prof Bitok.

He observed that Kenya is implementing an integrated border management system so that the government can monitor every visitor where they are and what they are doing to boost security.

He identified cyber threats, low internet and power connectivity and maintaining data privacy as some of the challenges that come with the ongoing digital transformation.

Prof Julius Bitok during the NADPA Conference at Windor Hotel in Nairobi.

Omar Seghrouchni, the President of Morocco’s data commission, said the issuance of digital ID is part of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals for everyone to have legal identity to boost Africa’s digital transformation.

Immaculate Kassait, the Data Commissioner, said Africa’s Data Protection Authorities would work towards having data systems that are interoperable to unlock the many opportunities and build their digital economies.

Besides Kenya, other countries that have introduced digital ID are Senegal, Algeria, Angola, Lesotho, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenya Yearbook Editorial Board is at NADPA conference to document Africa’s data protection journey.

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