Kenya Advances Digital ID System: Iris Scans and Fingerprints for Transactions

Government Aims to Launch Digital ID System by December, Simplifying Transactions

Kenya Advances Digital ID System: Iris Scans and Fingerprints for Transactions
Photo by Craig Stevenson / Unsplash

Kenyan citizens are on the verge of embracing cutting-edge digital identification methods as they prepare to transact using iris scans and fingerprints. The government is actively piloting this digital ID system, with plans to roll it out to the entire population in December.

President William Ruto made the announcement during the launch of the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya plant in Athi River, Machakos County. He revealed that the digital ID system is currently in a testing phase, with plans to unveil it for widespread use by December.

The digital ID system aims to address long-standing issues related to identification in Kenya. President Ruto emphasized the potential of this system, stating, "Where every Kenyan doesn't need to carry any paper, plastic, or anything else as an ID. They should be able to be identified digitally using their IDs or fingerprints, and we can transact without the necessity of people struggling to identify who they are."

This digital ID system will be introduced alongside "Maisha Namba," which will serve as a unique personal identification number assigned to Kenyan citizens upon registration, typically at birth. Maisha Namba will act as a lifelong personal identity number, serving various functions throughout a person's life. It will streamline processes related to education, healthcare, government services, and more.

The system's master database will employ advanced biometric technology, making use of fingerprint data to enhance data accuracy and reliability. By consolidating existing databases into a single integrated register, it will serve as the central reference for all data related to Kenyan citizens and foreign residents in the country.

Furthermore, the digital ID will be represented in a digital format, encapsulating personal attributes, credentials, and authentication. The Maisha card will serve as a third-generation ID, replacing the current second-generation ID card. It features enhanced security elements, including a microprocessor electronic chip with encrypted data, significantly reducing the risks of forgery and manipulation.

With these developments, Kenya aims to propel its identification systems into the digital age, making transactions and interactions more efficient and secure for its citizens.