A change in policy by the Kenya government means some of its select embassies have the capacity to issue the country’s national identity cards. Its large Diaspora no longer has to travel back to the homeland to obtain the card, a shift many in the Diaspora have applauded. The change allows Kenyan embassy personnel in key countries like the United States to issue the valued identity cards to eligible Kenyans applying for them.
The process for obtaining the identity cards differs significantly from that of a Kenyan passport. For the identity cards, Kenyans in the Diaspora that wish to apply for one while abroad needs to appear in person before a consular officer.
To facilitate the process for Kenyans resident in the US, the Kenya embassy in Washington has taken to the road to take applications from the Diaspora. The eagerly awaited exercise will take place in Minnesota on June 6 and 7 during Madaraka Day celebrations, according to Geoffrey Gichana, chairman of this year’s Madaraka Day committee in the state.
“We have worked with the embassy and the modalities on the ground are in place to make this exercise a success,” Gichana said. “We encourage all those interested in the IDs to do their homework ahead of time by going to the embassy website to see what they might need to bring to minimize frustration, we want all those who want this thing to get it, (I) hope Mshale can link to the embassy ID page to assist our people.”
In October 2014, the Kenya government announced that starting February of this year, Kenyans can start registering for the new digital national identity cards. Back then Mwende Gatabaki, the director-general of Kenya Citizens and Foreign Nationals Management Service (KCFNMS) was quoted as saying in Nairobi that “We will be issuing the first new ID cards to qualified Kenyans beginning October 2015. In December of the same year, we will stop issuing the old IDs and the digital ones will become the way of life.”
The new ID described by Gatabaki is a sort of ‘smartcard’ that will carry information relevant to the taxing authorities, the registrar of motor vehicles as well as the registrar of persons among others.
Why you need the Kenyan ID
Most in the Kenyan Diaspora are frequent visitors to the homeland whether for business or leisure. The Kenyan Diaspora in North America was responsible for almost 50% of the $US1.42 billion remitted to Kenya in 2014 by the global Kenyan Diaspora through traceable financial channels.
It is much safer to carry the national ID than a passport while visiting Kenya as it calls less attention to one.
The national ID is necessary for conducting certain kinds of business such as in dealings with the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the country’s equivalent of the Internal Revenue Service. KRA does not accept passports when one needs to apply for the much valued PIN (Personal Identification Number) that is necessary in transacting most business in the country.
On Saturday June 6 and Sunday June 7, Kenya’s ambassador to the United States, Robinson Njeru Githae who presented his credentials to president Obama last November will make his first visit to Minnesota. Traveling with him will be the immigration staff at the embassy that will take the Kenyan identity card applications.
Minnesota was officially designated by former ambassador Oginga Ogego in 2007 as the embassy’s official venue for the celebration of the country’s Madaraka Day in the United States. His successor, Ambassador Odembo, continued the tradition and in December 2014 shortly after taking over in Washington, Ambassador Githae pledged to maintain the same.
How to get the Kenyan ID (you might need some documents from Kenya)
Requirements for applying for the Kenyan national identity card are listed on the Kenya embassy website at: https://www.kenyaembassy.com/id.html.
Key items needed are a copy of one’s birth certificate, copy of a valid Kenyan passport, copy of Kenyan passport and/or Identity Card of either parent of the applicant.
Alternative documentation, mostly for naturalized Kenyans, includes a copy of their naturalization certificate. A copy of your unexpired Kenyan passport is still required if using this method.
ID Application venues for June 6 & 7
Embassy staff will take applications from Kenyans in Minnesota during the Madaraka Day celebrations that Ambassador Githae will be officiating. The application form and the full requirements are in the Kenya embassy website at https://www.kenyaembassy.com/id.html to get your paperwork ready.
The following are the two venues where they will be accepting applications for the IDs.
Saturday, June 6, 2015 10:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M.
Location for Saturday is: 7600 Boone Ave., Brooklyn Park, MN 55428
Sunday, June 7, 2015 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. (During the Madaraka Day Family Celebration at the park that will feature nyama choma and other Kenyan food).
Location for Sunday is: West Bush Lake Park, Shelter # 2, 95th St & West Bush Lake Road, Bloomington, MN 55438
Text KENYA to 24587 to be informed of late breaking news concerning this event.
About Tom Gitaa Gitaa
Born and raised in Kenya's coastal city of Mombasa, Tom is the Founder, Editor-in-Chief and Publisher of Mshale which has been reporting on the news and culture of African immigrants in the United States since 1995. He has a BA in Business from Metro State University and a Public Leadership Credential from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He was the original host of Talking Drum, the signature current affairs show on the African Broadcasting Network (ABN-America), which was available nationwide in the United States via the Dish Network satellite service. On the show, he interviewed Nobel laureates such as 2004 Nobel Peace prize winner, Professor Wangari Maathai, the first woman from Africa to win the peace prize and heads of states. Tom has served and chaired various boards including Global Minnesota (formerly Minnesota International Center), the sixth largest World Affairs Council in the United States. He has previously served as the first Black President of the Board of Directors at Books for Africa. He also serves on the boards of New Vision Foundation and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium. He has previously served two terms on the board of the United Nations Association. An avid runner, he retired from running full marathons after turning 50 and now only focuses on training for half marathons.
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