The Kenyan government is developing a plan to set up a biometric registry for its social welfare services, according to an AllAfrica article. Various government officials got the ball rolling at the country’s inaugural Social Protection Week convention, which kicked off at the end of January.
The idea for biometric registration actual began to take shape last year, when Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive to the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Services about protecting the vast sums allocated to protection of the country’s vulnerable; now, with further funds to be distributed, the President says that 521,000 households will benefit by the end of the fiscal year. Moreover, last spring the government announced plans to implement a biometric registry of citizens for security purposes; employing such technology for the administration of government welfare subsidies would seem a natural extension of that line of thought.
It’s all very similar to India’s pioneering Aadhaar initiative, which relies on fingerprint and iris scans. That program – the biggest national biometrics project in the world – was launched with similar aims, hoping to cut down on graft and waste in the government’s subsidies programs, while also giving citizens greater ease-of-access to government services, among other benefits. If Kenya can succeed at pulling something similar off, we may see a trend of countries with historically difficult infrastructure issues suddenly finding some major solutions in the deployment of digital and biometric technologies.
February 6, 2015 – by Alex Perala