The Kenyan government plans to roll out its digital identification system in December 2023 after the testing period, which will take a couple of months. According to the president of Kenya, William Ruto, whose speech at the East Africa Device Assembly Kenya plant in Athi River was cited by local media on Oct. 30:
“The digital ID, which has been a major problem to us for a very long time, is now on testing mode for the next two months. I have been assured by all the stakeholders and the ministries concerned that by December we will be able to launch digital IDs.”
Digital IDs will be introduced in the country, along with Maisha Namba, a system of lifelong personal identification numbers assigned to Kenyan citizens upon registration. The joint ID system will help the country digitize its registries and provide citizens with swifter access to state, educational and medical resources.
As the Principal Secretary of Immigration and Citizen Services, Julius Bitok, explained in August:
“The digital identity system will provide Kenyans with a secure and reliable way to verify their identity for a variety of purposes, including accessing gov’t services, opening bank accounts, and traveling […] It will also help to reduce fraud and corruption, and improve efficiency.”
In September, Bitok urged private businesses to embrace the digital ID systems, as they “enable innovative solutions like mobile banking and agent networks, transforming e-commerce processes.” He promised that the government will ensure the design of the digital ID will “facilitate commerce and ease business transactions.”
In June 2023, the Central Bank of Kenya expressed its doubts about the necessity of implementing a central bank digital currency in the short to medium term, referring to “other innovative solutions around the existing ecosystem” that could address Kenya’s “pain points” in payments.