Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok has refuted claims that the State is planting electronic chips on children as part of the ongoing Digital ID rollout.
Appearing before the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) at Waumini House in Nairobi on Wednesday, the PS pointed an accusing finger at multinational technological companies for spreading misleading information.
He revealed that the unidentified firms embarked on a smear campaign against the government after their application to help the State roll out the Maisha Namba project was denied.
Bitok stated that the government had settled on homegrown IT solutions for the project since an ID database was already available.
Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok presents a copy of the Braille version of a booklet on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Digital ID to Daniel Njuguna of the National Council of Persons with Disability at the Nairobi Serena Hotel.
The PS insisted that the government was wary of entrusting foreign firms with the design and implementation of the project due to concerns over data protection and integrity.
“The propaganda that we are inserting chips into babies was fuelled by them (vendors) as a result of the government’s refusal to take them up on this project,” he stated.
“Some have wanted to take the Maisha Namba from the ground but we declined their proposal on the basis that this is Kenyan ID and process and we already have a foundational ID. Maisha Namba is just an upgrade.”
KCCB had earlier grown concerned about the intensity of the rumours that the implants were already ongoing, pointing to a sinister motive behind the claims.
At Waumini House, the bishops also asked Bitok to facilitate more public participation and stakeholders’ involvement in the digital ID rollout.
‘Knowledge is power and there is a need to continuously share information with the public to dispel the misinformation out in the public,” stated Bishop Anthony Muheria, the Archbishop of Nyeri.
“It is imperative that continuity and diversity in communicating the right information to the public on the project.”
The State kicked off the pilot phase of the rollout on November 1 targeting first-time applicants as well as those replacing their lost IDs.
It is estimated that over 10,000 Kenyans apply for IDs every day while 5,000 apply for duplicates.
The pilot process is expected to help the State assess any errors likely to be found within the digital-based Maisha Namba before a penultimate rollout.
Interior CS Kithure Kindiki chairing a meeting with officers in Baringo South on October 31, 2023
Ministry of Interior