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Kenya adopts digital ID to eliminate marginalization

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Kenya has embraced digital identity to enhance equity and eliminate marginalization, a government official said on Wednesday.

Julius Bitok, principal secretary for Immigration and Citizen Services, said that digital identification makes every citizen equal as they are given their identity at birth.

“In Kenya, we have implemented a digital identity card (ID) called Maisha Card, which is issued at birth,” Bitok said at the ongoing Network of African Data Protection Authorities (NADPA) Conference in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya.

“Citizens, therefore, use this number all their lives and do not need to seek any other identity as adults, eliminating discrimination.”

Bitok said that citizens of northern Kenya and other border regions, who previously had to demonstrate they were not from the neighboring countries, make up the majority of those who have benefited from the new identification system.

He noted that many African nations have adopted digital IDs, which present a chance to improve cross-border travel and trade.

“Through digital identification, citizens in different countries can buy and pay for goods from wherever they are, bringing down the cost of doing business,” Bitok said.

Immaculate Kassait, Kenya’s data commissioner, said African countries’ data protection authorities have committed to working toward having data systems that are interoperable to unlock the many opportunities and build their digital economies.

In addition to Kenya, Algeria, Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Seychelles, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda are among the countries in Africa that have adopted digital IDs.

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