At a recent National Digital Registry Service for the Financial Services Sector in Nairobi, Kenya, news broke that a National Digital Registry System (NDRS) – a system that will facilitate the sharing of data among institutions – is expected to go live in June, 2016.

Mwende Gatabaki, Director General of the Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Services, estimated the cost of the project at Kshs 9 billion ($99 million). The project should take about 20 months to go live. As a precursor to the launch of the digital system, the government will begin issuance of digital ID cards in October next year.

The NDRS is designed to facilitate three core objectives; strengthen national security, reduce crime and improve safety. Once it goes live, the system is expected to serve as a repository that provides information on people, land assets and establishments. This way, the system will drive efficiency and accountability in service delivery.

Apart from the core objectives, the need for the NDRS is hinged on the sheer lack of effective documentation systems and processes in Kenya. Because of this, as much as 40 percent of births and 50 percent of deaths are not captured in the national registry, the contents of which are, to a degree, redundant and outdated. It is also critical that Kenya overhauls its approach to acquiring and managing information, especially in times where a competitive knowledge advantage helps in fighting terrorism and criminal activities.

Prof Njuguna Ndung’u, Governor of Kenya’s Central Bank pledged the support of the bank to the initiative. To Njuguna, the core objectives of the digital registry system, particularly the provision of digital identities for individuals and corporate bodies, are fundamentally important to the financial services sector.

“Identity is a perquisite for stable efficient safe and inclusive financial sector that is envisaged pursuant to Vision 2030. It is the process of identification and a host of menu services that can be included that creates an assurance of safety and accessibility to financial services,” he said.

The effective launch and usage of the NDRS initiative will add credence to the Presidential Digital Transformation of Government (PDTG) initiative, a three year project heavily sponsored by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The PDTG, if fully executed, will further position Kenya as a key ICT-driven nation in Africa, as well as usher in digital registry services, government shared services and a “one stop shop” for public services all driven by Information and Communication Technology.

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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