Digital ID in Kenya: An Advisory Policy Paper providing a roadmap to the implementation of a Rights Respecting Digital ID Regime in Kenya

Published: 31/Jan/2024
Source: Amnesty International Kenya & Strathmore University


The Government of Kenya has prioritised improvement of service delivery to its citizens through leveraging Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the reform strategy/agenda. Many of the services are also revenue streams for the government that it intends to place on a digital platform for improved access and efficient revenue collection. Digitalisation of civil registration and registration of persons through the introduction of a Unique Personal Identification (UPI) and digital identity are among the services that the government seeks to digitalise by the end of 2023.

The Directorate of Civil Registration Services (CRS) is responsible for civil registration while the National Registration Bureau (NRB) is responsible for registration of persons. These departments perform both provision of key services to the public and revenue collection from some of the services rendered. CRS and NRB have, therefore, been earmarked for program reforms which will see them transform their business process from the current hybrid of electronic and manual to a fully digitised end to end process.

Accordingly, the government proposes that a digitised registration system, which assigns a UPI at birth and a third generation digital identity should be developed to replace the current manual systems. The UPI will be assigned to all the documents of registration and identification such as National ID, Passport and Certificate of Birth. The UPI will also be assigned to functional databases such as KRA, NSSF, NHIF, NEMIS. Thus, once a person is assigned the UPI at birth, it will be linked to other government documents and services issued at a later stage in life. On the other hand, the third generation digital identity will fully digitalise the national identity system. This service will only affect the national ID.

This policy paper provides academic views on the next steps, the need, justification, principles, benefits and challenges of the UPI and digital ID in Kenya. It also provides a comparative analysis of the digital ID system successfully rolled out in India. Though not discussed at length, this paper also examined digital ID systems in Estonia, Mauritius, Germany, Portugal and Pakistan. This policy paper is, therefore, an advisory document.


Themes: ID Documents and Passports
Regions: Kenya
Year: 2024