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PS says Niimis needs new law ‘to succeed’

Interior Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho said on Friday that the National Integrated Identity Management Information System (Niimis) needs a stand-alone law to ensure it enjoys legal protection. 

Kibicho said unless a new law is created or the Registration of Persons Act is amended to accommodate Niimis, there will be challenges in implementing it even as the government plans to roll out a pilot exercise on February 18.

He said the ministry has drafted a bill, currently before Parliament, that if passed into law will safeguard the sustainability of Niimis.

The forthcoming biometric mass registration will cost the taxpayer about Sh6 billion, with the complete roll out set to begin on March 15, for 45 days.

Kibicho said Assistant Chiefs have been mobilised and trained to carry out the exercise in conjunction with registration officers, in a move that will see Kenyans given a Huduma Namba (unique number) once registered and verified.

The PS on Thursday sought to clarify the exercise that has attracted mixed reactions from Kenyans, including human rights groups.

“As a government, there is nothing sinister we are up to, but just a need to have proper data of all citizens. We want to collapse all the information into a single source of truth. You will only have two documents; one is that is the single source of truth and your passport,” he said.

According to Kibicho, the government will require at least an identification document from citizens and foreigners, either a birth certificate, ID card, driving licence or Kenya Revenue Authority PIN or work permit, among others, for the exercise.

Kibicho said to register, one will be required to provide their digital picture, name, gender, date of birth, age, citizenship, information about parents or guardians, place of birth, phone number, email address, physical and permanent residence and marital status.

“This data will be useful in planning purposes as well as help the government make informed decisions when allocating resources,” he said.

The unique number will be used by citizens to access various government services, with the government having already acquired 35,000 biometric registration kits to be used to capture the data countrywide.

Huduma Namba is a programme that was initiated through Executive Order No 1 of 2018, to create and manage a Central Master Population Register, which will be the authentic ‘source of truth’ of identity of all people residing in Kenya.