Interior Cabinet Secretary Kithure Kindiki, on Wednesday, May 24, revealed plans to upgrade the Identification Cards (IDs) by introducing more biometric features including facial recognition.
Speaking during the ID4Africa Conference at the Kenya College of Insurance, South C, Nairobi, Prof Kindiki noted that the advanced ID cards would have more security features, to address emerging challenges.
According to Kindiki, the new features would supplement the fingerprint security feature contained in the current IDs.
"We have an ID system which is semi-automated part of it. Going forward we are looking at upgrading our current automated fingerprint identification System (AFIS) into an automated biometric identification system which goes beyond the fingerprint and involves the iris, fingerprints as well as facial recognition," Kindiki stated.
Besides upgrading the features, Kindiki revealed that the newly launched IDs card could be authenticated online using short codes.
According to the Interior boss, the newborns would be the first beneficiaries of the programme to digitise all government services.
The IDs would be unique to all holders and would serve as a lifetime registration number.
"Going forward, we are moving towards an electronic ID with a machine-readable chip and QR code, and eventually, this should lead us to a digital ID system which will allow web-based ID authentication and, in the long run transit all that into a unique personal identifier which we are going to give all newborns in Kenya, and it becomes the age of 18," Kindiki explained.
Speaking at the same event, the Principal Secretary of the Immigration Department, Julius Bitok, revealed that the government was expected to launch the new IDs on September 16, 2023.
He defended the move arguing that it was in line with President William Ruto's plan to digitise over 5,000 services.
"As we reflect on (Unique Personal Identifier) UPI, we are very keen to identify September 16th as the day the government will be able to roll out some of the activities to support the UPI, which will be the foundation for our smart identity," Bitok stated.
To diversify revenue streams and minimise crime linked to identity theft, Bitok insisted that the government would consolidate and digitise existing databases under its custody and promote pay-to-access use by telecommunication firms and other businesses that rely on Know-Your-Customer (KYC) profiles.
However, ICT Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo insisted that the government had no plans of reviving Huduma Number, which failed to take off in former President Uhuru Kenyatta's regime.
"We will consider what works best for us a country while factoring in all available options through a consultative approach that addresses the concerns of many of our stakeholders," Owalo told the delegates.