New regulations pave way for Huduma Namba cards

Kenyans are inching closer to getting their long-awaited Huduma Namba identification cards after the State published the issuing rules.

The Registration of Persons (National Integrated Identity Management System) Rules, 2020 will guide the operations of the National Integrated Identity Management Systems (Niims), commonly known as Huduma Namba which is aimed at enhancing planning and public service delivery.

“The objects of these rules are to provide mechanisms for operation of the NIIMS (National Integrated Identity Management System) and facilitate the assigning of Huduma Namba and issuance of Huduma card to a resident individual,” the legal notice by Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i said.

Under the rules, Kenyans, eligible foreigners and refugees will be issued with their cards within 30 days after they are assigned the unique Huduma Namba.

All Kenyans of at least 18 years will be required to have the card while children who have attained six years will be issued with a minor’s Huduma Namba.

State agencies will rely on the Huduma Namba for any information on Kenyans and eligible refugees and foreigners seeking government services, meaning that those not registered risk missing out on key services like passport issuance and SIM card registration and title deeds.

“Any government agency requiring personal particulars of an individual shall, at the first instance, rely on the NIIMS database to authenticate the foundational data of an enrolled resident individual,” Dr Matiang’i further said in the notice dated October 8.

“For the purpose of establishing proof of identity, the presentation of the Huduma card or the Huduma Namba authenticated by biometrics constitutes sufficient proof.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta rolled out Huduma Namba registration in April last year, saying that the new cards will be “the authentic single source of truth on personal identity in Kenya”.

Some 38 million people had been registered by the time the Sh9.6 billion exercise closed in May last year.

The issuing of the Huduma ID has, however, been dogged by controversy amid claims that it would violate the rights of individuals.

For instance, the Nubian Rights Forum and Kenya Human Rights Commission sued the government over the platform early in the year, citing a lack of laws or policy on data protection.

The two organisations also argued that Niims would violate rights to privacy.

The High Court, however, quashed the case on condition that the State enacts a law on protection of personal data.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has also gazetted the Data Protection (Civil Registration) Regulations, 2020 that restrict access to personal data on registration of births, adoptions, persons, issuance of passports, registration of marriage and deaths.

Under the regulations, civil registration entities have been barred from transferring any personal data captured under the Huduma Namba for any registration purpose outside Kenya.

“A civil registration entity shall not transfer personal data collected for civil registration purposes out of Kenya, except with the written approval of the Data Commissioner,” say the regulations gazetted on October 13.

Data collected through the Huduma Namba registration will be stored in the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) — the central location for easy electronic access by institutions, including private corporations that provide crucial and sensitive services.

At the touch of a button, it would produce one’s details stored at the various registries, including births and deaths, marriages and divorce, as well as passport, aliens, ID cards and citizenship registers.

Such details will be linked and relayed in real time to agencies like the Lands registry, the National Social Security Fund, law enforcement agencies, the National Hospital Insurance Fund, the Kenya Revenue Authority, financial agencies, Immigrations, the National Transport and Safety Authority, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and universities.

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