Kenyan President, William Ruto, has announced that Kenyans will soon gain access to the country's digital IDs. Ruto, who made the announcement at the launch of locally made smartphones, revealed that the IDs are currently being tested ahead of a planned rollout in December 2023.
"The digital ID, which has been a big problem to us for a very long time, is now in testing mode for the next two months. I have been assured by all the stakeholders led by the ministries concerned that by December, we will be able to launch [a] digital ID where every Kenyan doesn't have to carry any paper, plastic, or otherwise as an ID," he said.
The Maisha Digital Card will replace existing national IDs and contain details such as driver's licence, birth and death certificates. Children will also be assigned a number at birth, which will provide them with access to government services.
For governments, this presents a significant planning challenge, while individuals are unable to access vital services as a result. Additionally, it can help governments save money. For example, when Zimbabwe's Public Service Commission introduced biometric verifications in 2020, it unearthed 3,000 ghost workers.
But despite its potential for inclusion in Africa, a few barriers stand in the way of complete adoption. Lack of trust in the government and data privacy concerns remain even as cyber attacks increasingly present fresh challenges on the continent.