Recent weeks have seen the queues at Huduma Number registration stations grow longer in the Capital City. Safe to say that the same is being replicated all over the country going by the President’s Delivery Unit tweet that announced that 20 million Kenyans had registered by 28th April 2019. The number grew by 9 million Kenyans in just 9 days, an average of a million per day.
Now as to whether this is a reflection of Kenyans’ enthusiasm to willfully register or not, is debatable. Reason being that there are a couple of factors that are in play to either motivate or demotivate Kenyans to join the bandwagon.
The conflicting information coming from the government and its agencies has had Kenyans in a limbo. In an article on the popular daily, Daily Nation, Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) threatened to block sim cards of all those who would fail to register for the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS). Shortly thereafter, the State House Chief of Staff, Nzioka Waita contradicted the statement via a tweet stating that the government is focused on upholding the court ruling to ensure the process is voluntary.
For government agencies to have the confidence to issues threats that violate court rulings shows there are more issues to raise concerning NIIMS than the official rhetoric about it. For instance, are there any consequences to those who opt out of the registration process that the government is not communicating? Does failure to register put one in a vulnerable position where they’d be subjected to harassment or extortion when seeking government services? Will the Huduma Number have priority over other forms of identification in the near future? The threats coupled with unanswered questions have resulted in a fear-driven populace that chooses to do what the government says lest they become victimized.