Kenya to Introduce a New Digital Identity Scheme in 2023 to Replace the Huduma Number

It is not clear how different the new scheme will be from the Huduma Number but current ICT Minister says to refer to it just as a digital identity. Huduma Number was reportedly built on blockchain.

The Kenya government plans to introduce a digital identity scheme by 2023 following a directive by President William Ruto to the country’s ICT ministry.

Ruto spoke about the digital identity plan in a forum as captured on the BitKE twitter channel below:

As the President indicates, this would not be the first time Kenya is pursuing a digital identity program. The previous administration launched the Huduma Number digital program which was stopped by the courts over data protection concerns.

It is not clear how different the new scheme will be from the Huduma Namba but current ICT Minister, Eliud Owalo, says to refer to it just as a digital identity:


“I don’t want to call it Huduma Namba! Let’s look at it from a conceptual perspective. What we’re talking about here is a digital identity. You can call it Huduma Number, you can call it any other name.”


A second senior government official, Immigration and Citizen Service Permanent Secretary, Julius Bitok, has also talked about a UPI (Unique Personal Identifier).


“[The UPI] can be used as the school admission number as well as the index number for national examinations. UPI can serve as the ID number on attaining 18 years, the registration number for NHIF, NSSF and driving license number.

An obvious question is how different UPI will be from Huduma Namba. Whereas the latter sought to register citizens afresh under a different system, UPI will repurpose an existing and continuous exercise.”


According to the previous ICT Minister, Joe Mucheru, Huduma Number was built on the blockchain, and introduced a single card that Kenyans could use to access a variety of government services in place of many cards.

Huduma Number harmonized several registrations into one identification number, including the following:

√ Registration and replacement of ID Card
√ Application and renewal of Driving License
√ Registration for Passport and Alien Card
√ Registration for NHIF and NSSF cards
√ Registration for Birth and Death Certificates

Some of the information captured by the card include biometric information fingerprints, and personal details.

Speaking at a Kenyan radio show, the former ICT Minister indicated that a person’s details cannot be changed once entered since the blockchain is immutable.

Mucheru added that a full history of a person’s activity is available on the blockchain which is necessary for accountability and auditing. Kenya is notorious for corrupt wealth acquisition and according to the Minister, the blockchain would be used to check a trail of how citizens acquired their wealth.

The implementation of the Huduma Number system however was stopped by the court system in Kenya citing poor data protection of user data. Nonetheless, millions of Kenyans have had their cards made and their data could still be live on the blockchain system.




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