The government will not subject Kenyans to a mass registration exercise to acquire their Maisha Card, as was the case with the Huduma Namba registration process, Nyeri County Registrar of Persons, Lucy Mwaura, has said.
According to Ms. Mwaura, the government is banking on Kenyans to voluntarily upgrade from the current second-generation Identity Card (ID) to the third-generation Maisha Card.
She said that the government is anticipating that after the launch of the Maisha Number on October 2, the phase-out period will last about two years, by which time the government is estimated to have transitioned Kenyans to the digital Unique Personal Identifier (UPI)-based national identity.
“We will not do a mass registration asking anyone to change their IDs because we want to change for everyone gradually,” she said.
“All IDs processed from October 2 onwards will come out as Maisha cards. Also, anyone who applies for an ID replacement or applies for changes to be made to their IDs will receive a Maisha card because, from Monday, October 2, we will no longer print the second-generation IDs,” explained Ms. Mwaura.
Similarly, she said that the National Registration Bureau (NRB) will convert existing ID numbers to Maisha numbers. This means that anyone who requires an ID will not be required to get Maisha’s number first from the civil registration.
“The NRB will continue generating ID numbers until the Civil Registration (which deals with registration of births and deaths) and the NRB (which is responsible for IDs) are integrated in such a way that they are able to generate a UPI for the population that already has a birth certificate,” she explained.
Some of the new features on the Maisha Card include the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) logo. With the Maisha card, the order of the names will now start with the holder’s surname. Additionally, the nationality of the holder which was previously absent will now be included.
The back of the card will bear an electronic chip, making it compliant with ICAO standards. It will also contain details about the holder’s home county and sub-county, among others. The card will be valid for 10 years, after which the holder will be required to renew.
“Maisha card will be valid for 10 years because it has that contact chip, which means it cannot continue to be used indefinitely; it will need to be updated. We will also need to keep upgrading our images so that they show the current realities,” she said.
The county registrar of persons was speaking during a public sensitization forum at the Nyeri Central Deputy County Commissioner’s boardroom on the Maisha Number. Among the participants were youth representatives, Nyumba Kumi elders, traders, and the clergy. Also present were Nyeri Central DCC, Joseph Mwangi, and the County Civil Registrar, Leah Kariuki.
The National Digital Identity, which will be rolled out next week on Monday, consists of four components: UPI (Maisha Number), Maisha Card (a third-generation ID card), digital ID that could be linked to a mobile phone, and a National Master Population Register consisting of all persons living in Kenya.
The Office of Civil Registration will be responsible for assigning the Maisha Number at birth. The Maisha Number will serve as a lifelong UPI that will be used to streamline the documentation processes throughout an individual’s lifetime.
Some of the new features on the birth certificate include the UPI number, which will replace the birth certificate number on the top right-hand corner. Whereas the old birth certificate identified the place of birth using the old administrative boundaries of province and district of birth, the new birth certificates are compliant with the 2010 constitution, thus recognising the county and sub-county as new administrative boundaries.
There are also provisions for both parents of the child to give their nationality, which was missing in the old version of the certificate. Additionally, whereas the old certificate only acknowledged two genders, the new birth certificate has three options, as a child can either be identified as male, female, or intersex.
The Nyeri County civil registrar noted that migrating the current civil registration process to a digital process will promote the faster generation of birth certificates. She noted that one of the new benefits will be that parents will now have access to a digital birth certificate.
“Once a birth has been registered online, it will be very possible for the parent to apply for an electronic birth certificate through the eCitizen platform and download or print it out without having to visit our offices,” she said.
Further, Ms. Kariuki also said that the new system will also remedy some of the common challenges, such as multiple citizen registrations and duplication of numbers, which are common with the manual system.
“With the manual registration, it was possible to register a child even twice because we were not able to track if a case had been previously registered. The digital process creates a fast identity authentication process because we can now confirm online,” said Ms. Kariuki.
By Wangari Mwangi