There are murmurs that Huduma Namba or the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) project could be abandoned.
In the era of increasing cybercrime, the absence of a trusted biometric identity could rob the country of its status as a regional hub for Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs).
The NIIMS is perhaps the low hanging fruit that will give President Uhuru Kenyatta a lasting legacy. It was hoped that NIIMs would form the foundational infrastructure for the upcoming Census, possible referendum and the Big Four agenda but the politicians are changing the narrative to fit their own selfish intentions.
It is a fact that the 2009 Census was manipulated by overestimating the population of eight sub counties in northern Kenya. The only way of providing a credible Census is through biometric identity.
The emerging technologies that would propel the 4th Industrial Revolution require a trusted identity to enable citizens to access benefits such as insurance, pensions, property deeds and virtually all services offered at Huduma Centres.
The system can also facilitate financial transactions including the purchase and sale of digital assets. Kenya leads the world in mobile money, e-commerce is growing exponentially, and government is digitising services to enable a digital economy to flourish.
Kenya simply has no choice but to embrace biometric identity to guarantee a digital economy, security, convenience and a good return on investment in Kenya’s investments in the digital space.
In his paper, ‘‘Biometric identification, financial inclusion and economic growth in India: does mobile penetration matter? analysing the impact of Aadhaar (the biometric identification process), Inclusion and Mobile’’, Saibal Ghosh established that there was evidence pointing to the fact that Aadhaar is making its impact felt on financial inclusion, primarily by improving financial access.
Champions of the system, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, say that Aadhaar “is India’s ticket to the future, a universal, easy-to-use ID that will reduce this country’s endemic corruption and help bring even the most illiterate into the digital age.”In a New York Times article, ‘‘Big Brother’ in India Requires Fingerprint Scans for Food, Phones and Finances’’, officials were reported saying taxpayers have saved at least $9.4 billion from Aadhaar by weeding out “ghosts” and other improper beneficiaries of government services.
There are, however, challenges. Civil society and other organisations fear that the government may misuse the data by conducting surveillance on citizens and that the data is not secure as it may fall into the wrong hands.
The sheer amount of private and confidential data amassed in one single database, makes it a target of cyber attacks and indeed there have been a number of data breaches.
The benefits, however, outweigh the costs and as such the government has made it mandatory as they work to curb cybersecurity breaches. The future is inherently digital. In spite of challenges, implementation of a trusted identity system must continue and be embraced by all.
Already, passports across the world now have biometric identifiers as a strategy to fight problems such as terrorism.
As the studies have shown, in biometric we have the opportunity to enable financial inclusivity and hopefully begin to disrupt poverty. At the 11th Extraordinary Assembly of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, on November 18, 2018, the African Union Commission and the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) organised a high-level meeting on Digital Identity.
The objective of the meeting was “to spearhead the advocacy for a continental framework on Digital ID and provide technical inputs to the discourse on Digital ID on the continent, define and shape standards for Digital ID in Africa.”
Even as AU and ECA contemplate the Digital Identity standards for Africa, several African nations, notably Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, and Rwanda are in the process of issuing biometric identity to their citizens. Its implementation across Africa will bring the continent closer to her intended African Continental Free Trade Area.
The Digital Identity, despite drawbacks, comes with greater benefits of not just security, convenience and returns on investment, but will help cut the cost of the upcoming Census and elections. It will be Mr Kenyatta’s most assured legacy project.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.