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ICT CS speaks on revival of Huduma Namba initiative

ICT CS Eliud Owalo said that the Huduma Namba roll out failed due to lack of public awareness

ICT CS Eliud Owalo

The Cabinet Secretary for ICT and Digital Economy, Eliud Owalo, stated that the Huduma Namba initiative rolled out in 2020 failed due to a lack of adequate public sensitization.

Speaking on Citizen TV on Tuesday, January 10, 2022, Owalo noted that the initiative was well-intended, but the process of introducing it to Kenyans was flawed.

"What is happening is that Huduma Namba was a very well-intended initiative, but the process of introducing it to the market was wrong…The pitfall that befell the huduma number is that there wasn't adequate sensitization at the beginning," said Owalo.

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The CS maintained that for such a project to become a success, the government should have involved all stakeholders, including Kenyans.

"Whenever you're introducing something new of that nature, one, you need to explain to Kenyans why it is imperative to introduce such an initiative. They need to understand what it entails. You need to seek stakeholders' views through the various stakeholder affairs so that you get their buy-in," Owalo added.

He further noted that the Huduma Namba initiative might have also failed due to the wrong timing.

Owalo said the political atmosphere at the time might have contributed to the downfall of the initiative.

"And you remember it was launched at a time when there was also a clouded political atmosphere. So there were suspicions around it," he said.

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According to Owalo, the Huduma Namba initiative, if passed, would have played an important role in ensuring all Kenyans had a digital identity to enable them to easily access government services.

"If you ask me the intention of Huduma Namba is to ensure that we have got a digital identity that could facilitate virtual transactions between government services between the government and the public as far as the provision of government services is concerned," said Owalo.

The CS, who has been launching WIFI hotspots in various towns across the country, stated that his ministry is going to use the same identity system in the government digitization programs set to be rolled out.

"It is the same thing that we are going to do as we roll out these government digitization programs because it is still imperative that we don't need Kenyans to go to government offices flashing their physical identity cards.

"All we need is a single based digital identity that will ensure that leveraging of ICT programs the government can identify who it is transacting business with, and Kenyans can transact business with government from the comfort of wherever they are," said Owalo.

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The High Court stopped the roll out of the initiative in 2021, citing that the government had not conducted a data protection impact assessment before rolling it out.

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