As the Huduma Namba registration deadline fast beckons, Kenyans across the country are trooping to Huduma centers to have their details recorded. As usual, Kenyans always waits for the last minute rush in order to register themselves.
On Monday interior cabinet secretary Fred Matiangi announced that the government is not intending to extend the 18th deadline. Even as this unfolds, it is now evident that the government will not meet the 100% registration of all the 31 million Kenyans.
If you believe that they will meet their target, then you have probably seen laptops for kids, five stadiums, and internships for graduates, just to mention a few. Since the government failed to carry out a mass voter education on Huduma importance, most citizens don’t see the need to register.
The idea that you need a #HudumaNamba to consolidate government services is a blatant technical lie. Your ID number is already unique, and you cannot get anything else without it. If the government’s efforts were honest, they’d improve their current systems, not add a new one.
To date, I’ve tried to find one single source of truth about the huduma number. Nothing. Whenever information (especially about service delivery) is made scarce by a government that has spent hundreds of millions on ads convincing us that it “delivers,” what does that tell you?
Another reason is the fact that Kenya does not have the right legal framework to protect people’s data. Why would the government rush to implement something so extensive yet data protection bills have been sitting in parliament for the past few years?
We also do not know (at least we haven’t been told) who owns the data, and what their interests are. It can’t be about service delivery, because it is clear that the service this country has received from the government has largely been a disservice. Who else is involved?
Sixth, no clarification has been made about the cards not having an expiry date. We do this all the time in tech. Instead of selling you expensive software once, we switch to a subscription model which seems “affordable” but which means you’ll pay a lot more over your lifetime.
Finally, whenever the Kenya Human Rights Commission opposes something, think twice. If you are denied access to a government service for lack of a #HudumaNamba, it is actually a violation of your constitutional rights.
The sad reality is that the current framework risks further alienating marginalised communities like Kenyan Somalis and Nubians.
Huduma will not beat the queues at Nyayo House when you want a passport. Huduma will not fix, Kenyatta Hospital. Huduma will not improve police cells. Huduma will not take the kanjo cage-like pickups. Huduma will not reduce the burden of producing your ID card for services since all the services will still need your ID card.
Most of those not intending to register said there is a lot of misinformation on the need for a Namba. Others said they do not have the required documents.