The launch of the Maisha Namba and digital ID card, scheduled for October 2, 2023, has been indefinitely postponed by the Kenyan government.
The Maisha Namba, set to replace current identity cards and serve as a Unique Personal Identifier (UPI) in the new digital identity system, was anticipated to usher in a new era of identification in the country.
Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary Prof Julius Bitok announced the postponement, citing "unavoidable circumstances" as the cause.
"We wish to inform the public and all the stakeholders that due to unavoidable circumstances, the official launch of the Maisha Namba and the digital ID ecosystem that was to be presided over by President William Ruto, in Nakuru County has been postponed," Bitok stated.
"A new date for the launch will be communicated in due course. Any inconvenience caused by the postponement is highly regretted. Meanwhile, public participation and stakeholders' engagement forums on Maisha Namba and the digital ID ecosystem that are ongoing across the country will continue."
While the government has not provided specific reasons for the delay, insiders have hinted at a desire to ensure comprehensive public involvement before unveiling Maisha Namba.
"The State did not want to rush the launch before Kenyans are properly sensitized," an unnamed senior government official stated.
The Maisha Namba initiative, including the introduction of new generation IDs, comes with a substantial financial commitment, estimated to cost the Kenyan taxpayers Sh1 billion.
Last week, PS Bitok emphasized that registration for the proposed digital ID database will not be compulsory, reassuring citizens that current IDs will remain valid alongside the new Maisha Namba card.
"I want to assure Kenyans that no one will be forced to take up the Maisha Namba Card. The current IDs will continue to be recognized as valid identification documents alongside the new card," affirmed Bitok during a speech at Nyayo Gardens in Nakuru, coinciding with World ID Day.