By HENRY OWINO (Senior Correspondent)

The current technological inventions in place are expected to speed up issuance of national documents to citizens. This is one way of promoting digital rights and digital inclusion to Kenyans similar to other nations.

The major documents include national identifications cards (IDs), birth certificates, travelling passports which are official and legal documents. Others are title deeds, KRA PIN number, driving license, national social security fund (NSSF) and national health insurance fund (NHIF) cards.

These documents are currently being digitized to make them accessible anywhere in electronic format in a single platform. This is what it meant by Huduma Namba (Service Number) government launched in April-May 2019.

The digital inclusion would enable Kenya citizens and foreigners residing in Kenya to have their details and access it electronically anywhere in the world. In Kenya, processing of these necessary vital documents takes several months denying citizens opportunities locally and overseas.

Kenyans are good at inventions and technology hence needs to be ahead of most African countries. Currently, Kenyans wait for weeks or months for the processing of IDs and birth certificates apparently without any genuine reasons.

Thousands of Kenyans complained through mainstream media and social media platforms why it was taking long to process vital documents.  This is because many were missing opportunities that require such vital identification documents.

Dr Fred Matiang’i, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Interior & Coordination of National Government in Kenya, was astonished why Kenyans wait for that long before obtaining the legal and vital documents.

Dr Matiang’i did not take it lightly and cautioned relevant authorities charged with the issuance of particular documents to provide necessary services to Kenyans by delivering on time. He ordered the respective establishments to ensure the documents are always processed and delivered within same day and date of application.

“Kenyans cannot be slaves in their own country where they have to wait for months and weeks to receive their vital documents. This must change for better and institutions charged with the responsibilities issuing the documents must deliver within same date of application,” Dr Matiang’i directed.

“It is only for the upcountry documents which must come to Nairobi for processing that may take a few weeks to deliver. Otherwise all applications within Nairobi must be processed same day while those possible at County level like Mombasa, should be ready same day,” Dr Matiang’i added.

Dr Matiangi said technology should be used to ease work thereby processing several bulky documents within shortest time possible. Government officials who are charged with provision of services to public are obliged to satisfy the needs.

He said it was shameless that Kenya leads in technology and innovation skills yet it cannot implement it. Time to render services to citizens and show the worth is now.  

Kenyans received the news splendidly and welcomed Dr Matiang’i move as a way of fighting corruption in the registry sectors. Many claims they have been compelled to bribe the government officials in order to process the documents in time.

Samson Korir said he had to spend Ksh 5000 to replace his lost national ID which was processed within two days. He eluded that it is very possible for anyone residing in Nairobi to apply and receive the document same day.

“I was forced to bribe my way since I needed the ID urgently for some transactions and had to be back in Kapkiamo in Baringo North Sub-County in two days. I run businesses, so I did not want it stop and lose many days,’’ Korir explained.

“I know inventions are meant to make the world better, smarter and a little more fun not to give us stress. Let’s use technology to improve on service delivery to citizens.” Korir suggested.

The cost of replacing lost national ID is usually Ksh 100 and takes about two weeks within Nairobi but close to one or two months from outside/upcountry. For anyone applying for the first time, the application is absolutely free of charge.

Several parents who have been taken round while applying for their children birth certificates especially those joining grade one, also were pleased with the directive. They always find it tasking and hectic because the officials at various registries demands for bribe indirectly.

This habit is mostly common at Huduma Canters more so in Nairobi County despite several of them situated there. Many complaints have been spotted at Huduma Kibra and Huduma Makadara in Nairobi where residents are served and documents processed according to ethnicity or community.

Monica Wafula has gone through difficult times processing for her children birth certificates to join grade and for grade eight registrations. She is optimistic that Dr Matiang’i directive would be implemented to letter to save parents time, money and energy.

It is therefore time for Kenyans to be flexible and embrace digital rights and digital inclusion as technology and innovations keeps on changing.