DIGITIZING THE KENYA ID PROCESS

Every Kenyan above the age of eighteen will carry many forms of identification in their lifetime in the form of their National Identity card,driving license maybe even a passport.Then once they are in gainful employment they will carry a NHIF(National Hospital Insurance Fund) card,NSSF(National Social Security Fund) card and maybe an additional medical insurance card.Not to forget that there is a pin certificate and your employers ID and if you are furthering your education there is the student ID and maybe a library card too.

With all this types of ID required for each Kenyan there are definitely loopholes for fraudsters to cash in on these and issue fake ID’s.We have seen this especially in certain areas of the country popular with immigrants from our war torn neighbors It is time government changed this by going digital with the id process and reducing the number of forms of identification any Kenyan will need for any service or just to identify themselves.

When i started on my first job i went to KRA and with my national ID i filled out some forms and was able to get my KRA pin and entered the world of the heavily taxed Kenyan society in formal employment.While the application process is now online maybe the government needs to look into merging the process of acquiring an ID once one attains the age of 18,getting a divers license and a personal identification number.Two of these processes ,getting a PIN and a drivers license are issued from the same government body the KRA and by adding the role of issuing ID it would seal loopholes by which government looses revenue through the evasion of tax.

Kenyan banks which are famous for using the KYC(know your customer)mantra to ask for everything from utility bills to marriage certificates before you open an account would have an easier time of knowing exactly where the millions stashed in their accounts are really from legitimate sources.This would be done by having the tax body share such information on prospective account holders with financial institutions reducing all the paper work that goes through with the process.

It is only a few weeks since the water Minister was cleared of corruption charges by a tribunal looking into the awarding of tenders in her ministry.Among the reasons for clearing her was the fact that none of the directors of the companies associated with the scandal could be directly linked to her.Having registered a company last year ,the registrar of companies really never bothers with knowing the individuals seeking to own a company.That is why corruption is so rife and why cases brought before the KACA (Kenya Anti Corruption Agency) never yield much because the perpetrators of these crimes have seen a loophole in the system.The current registration leaves no trail whatsoever and corrupt individuals are cashing in on this.

By merging some state functions like registration of companies,id issuance and issuing of both drivers license and PIN for tax purposes we may see more revenue finding its way to the exchequer and ensuring that offenders are easily tracked.

There are countries that have already gone digital with their ID process and these include Germany,Sweden and more recently Russia.Of these the most recent entrant is Russia whose electronic id will see the country issue unique multi application cards.According to Frost.com a global growth partnership provider “the Russian project will allow citizens to not only have access to institutional services but also to prove identity and signature and have medical insurance and pension information”.The card will also allow citizens to access public transport,act as a credit card to pay utilities,a health card for registration and prescriptions and also an education card that can be used to obtain university admission

The electronic ID cards in use in Sweden is plastic and rectangular in shape, about 86 × 54 millimeters in size come with a contact chip and some printed data on top.The printed data includes photograph and name of the holder,physical address,date of birth,date of issue and any other information that may be deemed relevant by individual countries.

Definitely there are risks as with all systems and checks like encryption of personal information and protection against phishing which is a major issue with EID’s will need to be taken into consideration.But these are definitely outweighed by the increased efficiency and reduced bureaucracy that characterizes the ID process.

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