An undisclosed source from the Ministry of Interior has confirmed that the microchips on Kenyan Identification Cards have been arranged in accordance with international standards.
The source clarifies that these microchips will have a limited lifespan and will need to be renewed every 10 years. They also emphasize that this new configuration is unrelated to the Maisha Namba initiative, as the government has committed to following the High Court's ruling to halt its implementation.
In December 2023, the High Court temporarily suspended the rollout of Maisha Namba pending a legal case challenging its legality. The source further explains that the Ministry had already incorporated the microchip into their systems, but this was not connected to Maisha Namba or any online speculations about collecting money.
The lifespan of a microchip is determined by its operational duration, similar to how an ATM card's chip typically lasts around five years. Therefore, the microchip on the Kenyan Identification Cards will be functional for 10 years, reflecting the standard lifespan for such technology. Maintaining security is a top priority when it comes to safeguarding biometric data.
The concept of incorporating expiration dates into identification cards is not unique to Kenya, as it is a commonly practised measure worldwide. However, it remains uncertain whether individuals possessing expired IDs will be required to obtain new ones.
Rumours regarding the implementation of ID expiration dates spread on social media, with many individuals accusing the government of using this strategy to generate additional revenue. In November, the Interior Ministry proposed a fee of Ksh1,000 for ID applications and Ksh2,000 for replacements. However, in response to public outcry, the cost of replacing an ID was reduced to Ksh1,000, with new applications costing Ksh300. These charges were temporarily suspended by the court pending a petition filed against them. The Department of Immigration, which falls under the Ministry of Interior, has not yet released an official statement regarding the expiration of National IDs.
A parent recently claimed that her daughter received an ID card this month that prominently displayed the features of Maisha Namba, which the Ministry of Interior has denied. The concerned parent questioned whether people would have to go through the hassle of obtaining a new ID every time it expires. Another user also expressed confusion over the decision to include an expiry date on a national identity card. The Maisha Namba was introduced by President William Ruto's administration as a replacement for second-generation IDs, to create a lifelong registration and identification reference known as the Unique Personal Identifier (UPI).