Critics slam Kenya's plan to drop biometrics from census
11 March 2019 17:10 GMT

Critics have cried foul after the Kenyan government dropped plans to use the biometric system during the upcoming national population census. 

Local media reports the issue is set to raise emotions especially in regions where residents have vowed not to accept the use of a manual system for enumeration.

“It will be impossible for us to use the biometric system to conduct the census because of various issues, key among them capturing data of children aged five years and below, who will not have developed reliable biometric features,” Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) director of population Macdonald Obudho told the Saturday Nation.

Obudho, who is also heading the technical committee for the census, also said a report on the suitability of using the biometric system had revealed that the country is not ready to adopt it.

Instead, the KNBS is awaiting the delivery of 164,700 mobile tablets by Moi and JKUAT universities, which won tenders to assemble the equipment.

“The tablets will be fitted with maps and coordinates of households, and will be connected to a national census dashboard which will receive data in real time from the field,” Mr Obudho said.

Earlier this year, KNBS director-general Zachary Mwangi advertised the tender for mobile device management software.

“KNBS invites sealed open national tenders for (the) provision of unified mobile device management software to support 164,700 mobile devices for 2019 Kenya Population Household Census… to be received on or before February 19, 2019,” a notice published by Mr Mwangi in local dailies said.

But supporters of the biometric system, including former Kiambu Governor William Kabogo, maintain it is the only way to avoid the controversy that arose over the 2009 census results.