Economy

Gates foundation to advise on Maisha Namba rollout

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Mark Suzman, CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation at a past event. FILE PHOTO

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will advise the State on the rollout of a new digital ID system dubbed Maisha Namba.

The plan for a digital identity includes the Maisha Namba, which is a unique personal number assigned to the Maisha Card — a third-generation digital identity card, and the National Master Population Register, which is expected to consolidate existing and independent databases into a single register.

The Maisha Card will replace the current second-generation identity card.

“Our role is always as an adviser. We can connect the government to key technical experts and partners, but we’re very encouraged by what we see and by the President’s commitment. We have a number of specific investment support on digital identity. We actually provide it to broader platforms” Mark Suzman, CEO at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, told the Business Daily on the sidelines of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund meetings in Marrakech, Morocco.

The government says going digital with personal identity is also intended to make Kenya compliant with international standards on cross-border travel set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation and other agencies.

The Kenya Kwanza administration is banking on a successful rollout of Maisha Namba to get it right with the project, which has run into headwinds under previous administrations.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation says it sees vast opportunities that can be unlocked through the existence of a digital identity in Kenya.

“This is a huge priority of President Willam Ruto, and we think very appropriately so because a strong, robust, open-source digital identity system actually becomes a platform that not only leverages financial inclusion, where Kenya is already a global leader but can be a platform that actually drives important advances in health care, in education and other services. We’ve been working with some other partners we have,” said Mr Suzman.

Maisha Namba was set for launch by President William Ruto on October 2nd before being postponed through a notice issued by Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary, Julius Bitok, on September 29th.

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