Doom the Huduma Namba naysay

Dr. Fernando Wangila makes a presentation at a past CIO East Africa event (Photo by Arthur Kuwashima)

A prolonged public contention or disputation concerning a matter of opinion is defined as controversy. This, in no uncertain terms, is what was at the heart of Huduma Namba registration in the country.

The Huduma Namba, a personal unique identification issued to persons living in Kenya upon registration, will assist the government in developing a national biometric population database of all those in need of government services and will be used for the facilitation of access to such services.

Dr. Fernando Wangila, CIO National Transport and safety Authority clarifies this functionality. He says, “An illiterate person is one who cannot write his name and an illiterate state is one that cannot write the names of its citizens.”

The Government of Kenya (GoK) launched this project to harmonize different databases like NHIF, NSSF among others, into a one document in form of a number on a card- tha Huduma Card.

The huduma card does not however correlate with the huduma namba other than for having the numbers inscribed on the cards.

Just so I don’t not lose you, I will do a little backgrounder.

The Huduma Card was initiated by the Ministry of Devolution, then headed by Ms Anne Waiguru in 2013 and would later be launched in 2015 to allow for the disbursement of government funds through the same and was also expected to ease remittance by say NSSF members and to create transparency in the collection of funds. The huduma namba on the other hand, is a project of the Ministry of Interior headed by CS Fred Matiangi that was recently launched in the country.

I may be wrong to think so, but it all sounds like a wrong choice for a name.

However, worthy to note is that after registering for the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), all residents of Kenya get issued with the Huduma Card containing their unique identification numbers – Huduma Nambas.

Dr. Wangila, at a financial technology summit (Fintech) curated by CIO and held at the Villa Rosa Hotel in Nairobi on May 23rd, clarified old databases like NHIF, NSSF, KRA etc, will not be flashed down the lavatory just yet, the data will be retained for corroboration of the new data NIIMS numbers.

He points out to the safety of the new database, what has been the main bone of contention, noting that the National Data Protection Act if harmonized with the Cyber Security Act and Kenya Information and Communication Act 2018,  the Huduma Namba database will be the safest way to centralize data.

He likens the Huduma Namba journey to the history of National Identification Cards (IDs) during the colonial era, when people openly mocked what would be a wonderful must have commodity, even terming it satanic. He calls it naysay propagated by well-informed citizens who know only too well the importance of such an identification process but want to upset its progress maliciously.

Pointing out to the major impact areas for the Huduma Namba, Dr. Wangila mentions elections and census and adds that it is not limited to the two.

“The effect of the Huduma Namba will be felt after the system is fully installed and integrated into other systems of the government,” says Dr Wangila in urge for Kenyans to give a good project time to materialize.

The Key Objectives of the Huduma Namba include and are not limited to; Having Accurate Proof of identification and cut off false identification or cut off false impersonation.
To eliminate National Social evils, which include fake national IDs or fake passports, fake university certificates, fake car registration numbers, fake Land titles, fake cheques and fake insurance claims.

Conditional access system (abbreviated CAS) or conditional access (abbreviated CA) is the protection of data in Main Server by requiring certain criteria to be met before granting access to Social Service data.

The NIIMS system of registering the Huduma Nambas is built on the blockchain technology, that is known for transparency.

The blocks building the chains (Blockchain) are decentralized, distributed and public digital ledgers that are used to record transactions across many computers so that any involved record cannot be altered retroactively, without the alteration of all subsequent blocks.

The company that won the NIIMS registration tender, IDEMIA, did a press release on what to be expected of the Huduma Namba.

“The State will get feedbacks from Civilian Initial Physical identification, on how many Civilians have directly received Social services in Hospitals, Farmers Cereals harvests to NCPB, Pensions, Bursaries, Land rates, Livestock taken to KMC etc, with accurate amount Civilian dues, Social claims and eligibility Payouts,” read part of the statement.

IDEMIA also explained that the Biometric identification will Promote accountability and transparency in management of National Social Services, on civilian License compliance, Citizenship, civilian dues arrears, amount claims and eligibility payouts.

When fully fledged, the Huduma card will replace all other cards we carry around, the NHIF, NSSF, Driving Licenses, KRA pin, name it. What an easy life with a one stop, have it all card.






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