Kenya is set to start mass registration of fingerprints on March 18 in a multi-million shilling drive that brings back French firm OT Morpho to high-profile business with the government.
Interior principal secretary Karanja Kibicho said the French technology firm, which late last year rebranded to IDEMIA, has already supplied 31,500 biometric kits for the registration set to last 45 days.
“We have all the kits. They have been supplied by IDEMIA but their software has been prepared locally,” said Dr Kibicho, adding the State expects up to 50 million Kenyans to visit nearest offices of assistant chiefs for the biometric.
The French firm gained public attention after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission awarded it a Sh6 billion tender to supply voter identification and results transmission kits (KIEMS) ahead of the 2017 polls.
Former electoral agency chief executive Ezra Chiloba would later fight off claims of single-handedly procuring the services of the French firm.
That was after Opposition candidate Raila Odinga accused the firm of being complicit in alleged rigging of the presidential election that was later declared null and void by the Supreme Court.
On Thursday, Dr Kibicho said the entire biometric registration will cost Sh6 billion.
It is estimated that half the budget will be spent directly on the kits with bulk of the remaining portion going into paying the 50,000 registration officers.
The registration officers will work with the assistant chiefs in collecting basic information like bio data, citizenship, family tree, marital and employment status alongside the fingerprints of every citizen.
Dr Kibicho said the exercise to be piloted from February 15 will however not entail collection of DNA samples or information on physical location (GPS coordinates), even though recent changes in law allows the State to do so.
Also not to be collected are information on biological features such as hand geometry, earlobe geometry, retina and iris patterns as well as voice waves which are also permitted under the recent legal changes.
At the end of the exercise, every Kenyan will be issued with a single digital (Huduma) card to be used in accessing government services.
“We are not saying that Kenyans who visit registration clerks will walk away with Huduma cards on the same day but that’s what everyone will eventually get in order to access services.
"In the fullness of time, will not need all these multiple cards and documents except Huduma and passport,” said Dr Kibicho.