• President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured Kenyan youth who are of age that they will be facilitated to acquire national identity cards.

    He called on county commissioners to ensure that the young people get the vital identification document without harassment.

    “So long as the youth who are of age are Kenyans, they do not have to be asked to go to the place of their parents’ origin for them to get the identification documents. They should be given the IDs where they stay,” President Kenyatta said.

    The current law requires applicants to bring with them a letter from a local chief for an introduction. This, according to many youths in Nairobi poses as a challenge as many of them know Nairobi as their only and ‘rural’ home.

    According to the law stipulated in Section 5 of the Registration of Persons Act, the registration clerks have been authorized to ask for documents such as a baptismal card, birth certificate or a letter from the chief to ascertain the place of birth. Other details that may be required include “declared tribe or race”.

    With such guidelines, clerks have no other way than to follow the law which some sometimes becomes a bottleneck for the citizens.

    On a brighter side, though, the head of state has now asked county commissioners to prioritize issuance of IDs and give youth the documents in their current locations.

    The importance of national identity cards in Kenya cannot be downplayed. Without an ID, an individual cannot vote, register their sim cards, open a bank account, register a business, join a youth or any other registered group, acquire a driving license, access higher education, register a business or obtain formal employment. Sometimes, in times of impromptu crackdowns, without the vital document, one can be a victim of arbitrary arrest on the grounds they lack legal identification.

    Even as some people complain they are not able to get IDs due to one reason or the other, the government has been urging people who applied for their documents to pick them at their respective locations.

    Nearly 400,000 national IDs lie uncollected by the applicants in different locations across the nation.

    Government’s efforts to speed up the services by opening government one-stop (Huduma) centers in various localities in the country, are being watered down by applicants who fail to collect the identification documents. The process of availing the document is expensive and also cause the government more strain by setting aside a place to store the uncollected documents. This adds to wastefulness in the delivery of public services that the citizens can barely afford.

    Even as the president directs IDs to be issued without delay, citizens should take responsibility to collect their processed documents. This will not only help them to be legally identified as Kenyans but will also save the country some resources.  

    Graphic image credit: Daily Nation