Starting in 2019, Kenya is set to issue new digitally enabled identity cards to citizens. Notably, some of the information that will be available on the IDs includes tax and drivers license details.

While briefing media at the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) consultative meeting in Naivasha, Kenya, Gordon Kihalang’wa, Kenya's Director of Immigration, indicated that the process that the procurement process is already underway to ensure that by 2019 the IDs can start to be issued.

“The digitalized document will be scanned at the border to facilitate easier movement of people within the IGAD region,” said Kihalang’wa.

IGAD is a trade bloc of eight countries in East Afrika with initiatives to improve the investment, trade and banking environments of member states. One of the things that the new IDs Kenya is set to issue in 2019 will facilitate is the free movement of Kenyans in East Afrika.

“Uganda and Rwanda are also in the process of introducing the new-generation ID and this will make it easier to travel and conduct business across East Africa,” said Kihalang'wa.

This sentiment by Kihalang'wa was also echoed by Patrick Ole Ntutu, Kenya's Cabinet Administrative Secretary in the Ministry of Interior when he launched the National Consultative Workshop towards the development of the Regional Protocol on Free Movement of Persons earlier in February.

“Some of the key benefits that we will enjoy by facilitating free movement of persons and opening up our borders to the world include among others higher tourism and trade volumes, competitive economy, skilled labor exchange and education opportunities as well as social and cultural integration,” said Ntutu.

With the digitally enabled IDs, Kenyans, along with other East Afrikans, once their respective countries have started issuing them, will be able to cross borders in East Afrika without much hassle as all it will take is their ID being scanned at the border. This is not the first time that Kenya is venturing into digitally enabled forms of identification, in 2017 Kenya's Immigration Department started issuing e-passports that had a chip embedded containing the holder's details and biometric.

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