The Kenyan government will start issuing digital birth and death certificates from March 1, 2023, according to Immigration and Citizen Services Principal Secretary, Prof. Julius Bitok. The system will be known as the Unique Person Identifier (UPI). In addition, it will be accessible via the government’s e-services portal.
The move comes as a response to increasing the number of registered births and deaths in the country. Only newborns will be registered under the UPI. Kenyan citizens originally got national Identity Cards when they turned 18. Before that, they rely on student IDs, passports, or word of mouth to prove that they are Kenyan citizens.
The UPI will also provide a way to increase birth and death registrations in remote communities.
The UPI as a new ID
According to Citizen Digital, Bitok stated, “We are saying we don’t have to give someone many numbers. You’ll be given a number when you’re born and you’ll use that number in primary school as your registration number, high school, in college, use it as an ID and it becomes your number for whatever transaction.”
In addition, the new CSR office in Ngong will enable further registration of new births and deaths in the county. Moreover, the UPI will be available to Kenyan children born abroad.
In the event of death, the UPI will be used as the death certificate number. This will make it easier for the state to keep track of death records.
The UPI differs from the Huduma Namba by using pre-existing systems. Maternity staff will continue registering births in facilities, and assistant chiefs will continue registering community births.
The Benefits of Digital Birth Registration
A birth certificate confirms that the child has been registered with the state. However, a child may be registered but never receive a certificate, or the parents may be unable to collect it.
Digital birth registration helps ensure the records are permanent. UNICEF also highlights Pakistan and Tanzania, which have an app that enables real-time access to birth registration data.
The UPI could also help reduce instances of statelessness for children born in remote areas. It also helps protect children from child labour, early marriage, and underage military service.
In other countries, systems similar to UPIs monitor individuals’ health care. Countries such as Slovenia use unique numbers issued at birth to manage national health information. Births are registered digitally to a central population register.
This information is then shared with the Financial Administration, adding the child to the health beneficiary scheme and tax registry.
Similarly, the Kenyan UPI will be used to add children to the National Hospital Insurance Fund and The National Social Security Fund. Furthermore, the UPI will be used for the driver’s license. It will also be used to register primary and secondary school students.
The UPI will be a new, more robust national ID, removing the need for having multiple cards and numbers for various transactions.
You can now access Government services online using #eCitizen