Kenya's NIIMS system at the centre of controversy


On Thursday 18 April, Kenya's Communication Authority (CA) stated it would disconnect SIM cards of users who have not been registered on the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), also known as 'Huduma Namba'.

Speaking at a CA Kikao Kuu community drive, the regulator's Director General Francis Wangusi said plans are underway to deny Kenyans SIM cards if they are not registered on the NIIMS platform by 18 May.

"We are waiting for the 45 days to end ... we will say unless you have a Huduma Namba, you don't have a SIM card. So prepare yourself. And when we say it that way, it could be a polite order but it is an order that is enforceable," said Wangusi.

His comments triggered a backlash and forced the CA to issue a statement claiming Wangusi was misquoted by the media.

"We wish to clarify that the Director General has been quoted out of context. For the record, Mr. Wangusi emphasised the importance of the Huduma Namba as a single source of truth for the identity of citizens. He noted that unscrupulous persons have in the past used either lost ID cards or (the) ID cards of dead persons to register SIM cards with the express purpose of misusing the cards to perpetrate criminal activities," read the statement.

The CA added that following consultation with stakeholders, in future the Huduma Namba may be required to register new SIM cards.

Kenya's Immigration Department has also made headlines after issuing a statement that it would be difficult for people to receive passport services without a Huduma Namba.

However, the courts have ruled that no one can be denied government services if they do not have a Huduma Namba or be coerced to register. The courts also removed the time limits for registration on the NIIMS.

According to the president's office, 11 million Kenyans have already registered on the NIIMS platform.