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Digital IDs issuance to resume as High Court lifts injunction


The Kenyan High Court has lifted the injunction preventing the government from printing new digital identity cards.

The courts had suspended the issuance of the ID cards, commonly known as Maisha Number in December last year following an application filed by Katiba Institute.

Among the issues Katiba Institute raised was the safety of the personal information collected, its assessment and processing as well as public participation.

High Court judge John Chigiti however lifted earlier orders and further directed that the matter be transferred to the constitutional human rights division for hearing and determination.

In November, the Kenyan government launched a trial programme for the new digital IDs. The government said first-time ID applicants will now be issued the “new Maisha Card,”.

Applicants who needed to replace defaced or lost cards were also to receive the new card.

“All Kenyans turning 18 in any part of Kenya will be issued a Maisha Card on a trial basis.” This way, we’ll know if there are any flaws or concerns before the final launch.” When announcing the pilot, Prof Julius Bitok, Permanent Secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, noted.

Following the lifting of the injunction, Bitok said the government will now accelerate the issuance of the new cards. He said over 60,000 Kenyans had already applied for the ID cards. 

“State Department for Immigration and Citizen Services has taken note of the High Court Directive on Friday, February 23, 2024, lifting the orders issued on December 5, 2023, that bared the Ministry of Interior and National Administration from the issuance of new generation national Identity Card also known as Maisha Card,” said Bitok.

“We assure all persons with pending applications that we will expeditiously produce IDs on a first in-first out basis beginning immediately,” he added.

Maisha Card will include a unique personal identity (UPI) number known as Maisha Namba that will act as the primary and permanent registration and identifying reference for its bearers.

President William Ruto has previously stated that the piloting of digital IDs is intended to promote the country’s digital goals, including the consumption of government services.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I track and report on tech and African startups. Founder and Editor of TechTrends Media. Nixon is also the East African tech editor for Africa Business Communities. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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