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Nyangi, an 18-year-old woman in Kenya, was turned back for lack of documents when she went to register for the Huduma number. The unique number has been the talk in the village. Without it, she will not be eligible for government aid programmes such as the Community Development Fund and Joint College Admission, among others. In future, she will have trouble acquiring Kipande, an ID card. Youth without Kipande are targets of harassment by the police. She has heard of one police station in Donholm that is notorious for locking youths in a container, where they would bake in the hot weather. Her late mother gave birth to her in the house and had never acquired her birth certificate.

The first phase of the Huduma number rollout is the registration, where details of a citizen’s identity are taken. In the second phase, citizens will be issued an electronic card with the Huduma number details. The number is supposed to be the mother of all identification digits, the National Integrated Identification System; the government should be able to search its database through this number and find all details on the National Health Insurance Fund, tax compliance and much more. For Nyangi, this can work to her advantage. Her home in Kano is prone to flooding; people lose documents and property every year during the long rains. She can still present herself for government services and identify herself with her fingerprints. But hey, the government also says that she will still need an ID card along with the Huduma card to get public services.

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