President Uhuru Kenyatta applying for his. Image, courtesy.

The issue of Huduma Number has been on every Kenyan’s mouth in the past month and a half. It is apparently a number that is expected to be unique to every Kenyan citizen who applies for it, and every single Kenyan is expected to have one, including newborns (as long as they have a birth notification card).  The only non- citizens expected to have it are students, those in asylum and workers. What I get from the whole idea is that it will be a compilation of various certificates, identification cards and generally the most popular requirements for various services offered to Kenyan citizens by the government. Kenyans are heading to the nearest location where the data collecting agents are temporarily situated and this is mostly at the chief’s. The whole exercise is being carried out by the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), and is expected to cost the government between 5 and 6 billion.

As one who has already applied for one, I went through carrying my identification card, birth certificate, driving license, KRA PIN and passport to the venue, where all that data was collected and fed into a tablet they call a KIIMS kit. It is in no way the same kit used to cover the elections. I gave out my parents’ name, marital and employment status, location of residence and my level of education. After that, my fingerprints were taken, and I put a signature electronically. Ah! A passport photo was taken too. It was not in any way hectic process.

KIIMS officials registering citizens. image,courtesy

Concerning the safety of the data collected, there is a bill (The Data Protection Policy and Bill) that has been passed into law by parliament and covers permission to collect data and offers means to protect the same.

a glimpse of how the new cards will look like. image, courtesy

SO HOW DOES THE HUDUMA NUMBER APPLICATION BECOME POSSIBLE FOR DIASPORIANS?

The president announced that Kenyans living in the diaspora would start the process on May 6th, 2019, and that it will be done in their respective embassies and consulates within 45 days.

WHAT HAS CAUSED DISAGREEMENTS BEWTWEEN KENYAN CITIZENS AND THE GOVERNMENT CONCERNING THE HUDUMA NUMBER?

I honestly do not like the ‘kiholela-holela’ method that the government is using to enable its people to get the said registration. Just like the national elections that are done, there is barely any education to inform citizens on its meaning, importance and benefits for everyone. We are left with little knowledge and even searching the net will still not fulfill our queries. That is the main reason Kenyans are rejecting, demonizing and worse, deciding to forgo the process.

Apart from that, I think that the number will have, if well employed, a positive impact in our lives. To quote CS Matiang’i, ‘“If for some reason a person feels they do not want to register, it’s unfortunate because, at some point, one will need services from the Government. If you do not have a Huduma Namba, you will not be denied the service, what will happen is that Government officers will take longer to serve you,” What do you think about this decision by the government? Will you be on the queue for yours? Do you think the government ought to do better? Let me know in the comments section.