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Government, Civil Society Agree on Joint Digitization Awareness

The Government and the civil society have agreed to a joint public sensitization campaign on the planned massive digitization of essential registration services.

The creation of a joint working group was arrived at a consultative forum between the Government and representatives from 25 civil societies that discussed concerns around privacy and the security of data that will be collected during the registration.

Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary (PS) Julius Bitok who hosted the meeting in Nairobi said the Government is keen to secure stakeholders’ support in the planned digitization of over 5000 services to avoid implementation challenges experienced during previous digitization projects.

“We are committed to partner with the civil society. We are aware of the challenges the government went through during the Huduma Namba rollout. The price of failure was too high due to avoidable differences of opinion and tactics. We want to walk together to avoid unnecessary litigation and roadblocks that will negatively impact service delivery,”said Bitok.

Immaculate Kassait Data Protection Commissioner makes welcome remarks during a Civil Society Breakfast engagement meeting on digitization of Citizen Services on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at Movenpick Hotel, Nairobi.  Photos by Kibet Cheptumo

The PS was responding to concerns voiced by the Amnesty International Kenya Director Irungu Houghton who sought assurances that the envisaged rollout will be preceded by data impact assessment, data protection mechanisms and elaborate public and other stakeholders’ involvement.

“We need to make it possible for the public to be aware of what is happening so that they can participate fully and give feedback so that the exercise that has been mandated by the President moves with speed, depth and integrity in regards to the Data Protection Act,” Mr Houghton.

The Data Protection Commissioner Immaculate Kassait, who was in attendance, said the country stood to gain from the full implementation of the Data Protection Act as it will mitigate investors’ concerns around identity theft and the security of their investments.

Besides government representatives, the working group membership will represent over 25 groups and will be mainly drawn from civil societies that are active in registration of citizens and human rights groups.

It will focus on public awareness of issues around digital registration and the rationale of the program and draw an engagement plan for stakeholders’ consultative forums while also providing channels for feedback on pertinent issues.

Its immediate agenda will be to draw a consultative plan for the rollout of the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) that the government plans to launch in April and the third generation ID, the National Digital Identifier (NDI).

Among the groups represented in the meeting were Amnesty International, Transparency International, Article 19, Katiba Institute, Mzalendo Trust, Open Institute, Nubian Rights forum, Siasa Place and the Lawyers Hub among others.

By Hamdi Mohamud


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