In the Press

Kenya’s New Digital IDs May Exclude Millions of Minorities

In this article in the New York Times, Abdi Latif Dahir writes on the issues of discrimination brought about by Kenya’s proposed giant biometric ID and digital ID project, commonly known as Huduma Namba or NIIMS.

The Kenyan government will require citizens and foreign residents to have the identification number to access government services. There are fears over data privacy and the risk that it could further disenfranchise marginalized groups.

In February 2019, Namati’s partner Nubian Rights Forum filed a petition in the High Court of Kenya to challenge the constitutionality of Huduma Namba. In its ruling on applications for interim orders, the High Court did not prevent its launch, but did restrict several key provisions of the system. This ruling is significant but has not stopped the government from attempting to pressure Kenyans to register.

As Namati’s Citizenship Program Director, Laura Goodwin, is quoted as saying in the article, “The added hurdles have affected at least five million of Kenya’s 47.5 million people, leading to delays in processing their ID cards and outright denials. If the biometric ID system goes ahead, millions could end up without identification numbers.”

Also quoted in the article is the chairman of Nubian Rights Forum, Mr Shafi Ali, who says, “The government is digitizing discrimination, without an ID card and identification number, you are totally a living dead.”

The high court is to rule on the constitutionality of the project on Thursday, January 30, 2020.

January 30, 2020 | Namati