With $1 billion of financing behind the introduction of Unique Personal Identifiers, also called “Maisha Numbers”, allocated by the Kenyan government, national ID cards will slowly become a thing of the past.

The Maisha Number will be assigned at birth. And it will serve as a lifelong UPI, streamlining documentation processes throughout an individual’s lifetime. So the Maisha card will have a lifespan for various needs throughout the individual’s lifetime, serving through education, and mandatory tax duties. And even as a death certificate, when the ID card will expire.

Citizen Services Principal Secretary Julius Bitok said on Tuesday that the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) will replace the country’s second-generation identity cards.

Maisha number explained

“The National Steering Committee for Digital Identity has approved the proposals made by the national digital identity technical committee to have a National digital ID implemented according to the directive issued by President William Ruto on June 30,” Bitok said.

He explained that the National Digital Identity has four components, UPI (Maisha Number), Maisha Card (a third generation ID card), Digital ID that could be linked to a mobile phone, and a National Master Population Register consisting all persons living in Kenya.

“It will be a Unique Personal Identifier across the lifetime of someone that is why we are calling it the Maisha Number. It is a lifetime number from birth to death, for all documents that will be the number that will be used,” he said.

Bitok at the launch

Maisha number uniqueness

PS Bitok clarified that, unlike the Huduma Number which required the collection of biometric data from the public, the Maisha Number will be generated using existing databases, including those from civil registration.

Last month the country geared up to the transition from its current identification system by signing a MoU, or Memorandum of Understanding, that confirmed the UNDP’s support of a transformative digital identity rollout across the country, offering technical and financial support in raising funding to deliver a digital ID. Kenya aims to close the gap of accessibility to services with enhanced digital verification.

The government had previously ventured into the reusable ID space before the Huduma Namba was scrapped. The rollout of the new digital ID system will occur in three phases, starting with first-time ID applicants, those seeking duplicates, and replacements for lost IDs.


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