The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, linked to billionaire Bill Gates and his ex-wife Melinda, has inked a deal with the Kenyan government to advise on the planned rollout of the Digital Identification Document (ID) dubbed Maisha Namba.
Maisha Namba follows the failed attempt by former President Uhuru Kenyatta's administration to roll out a similar ID, Huduma Namba.
Maisha Namba will be the third-generation ID with a unique number that will be assigned to every Kenyan at birth, and will be used from birth to death and in accessing different government services.
“Our role is always as an adviser. We can connect the government to key technical experts and partners, but we’re very encouraged by what we see and by the President’s commitment," the Foundation CEO Mark Suzman told a local paper.
"We have a number of specific investment support on digital identity. We actually provide it to broader platforms.”
The billionaire has met President William Ruto in a series of closed-door meetings since he came to power with most of the engagements shrouded in secrecy.
According to reports, the deal will connect the government to key technical experts and partners who will offer professional advice to guarantee a smooth rollout.
During the interview, Suzman said he was very encouraged by President Ruto's commitment to digitalise critical services.
“We have a number of specific investments supporting digital identity. We will provide it to a broader platform,” Mark Suzman said.
The Bills and Melinda Gates Foundation says it sees ripe opportunities that can be unlocked through tapping the potential of digital identity in Kenya.
“This is a huge priority of President William Ruto and we think very appropriately so because a strong robust , open source digital identity system actually becomes a platform that only leverages financial inclusion, where Kenya is already a global leader but can be a platform that actually drives important advances in health care,” said Mark Suzman
Initially, the government planned to launch the Maisha number on October 2 before the plans were shelved, ostensibly to allow proper public participation.
According to President Ruto, digitalising personal identity is intended to make Kenya compliant with international standards on cross-border travel set by the International Civil Aviation Organization and other international agencies.
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