Kenyans could potentially acquire a digital identity by March of next year, alongside the introduction of affordable smartphones manufactured within the country in the next two months.

These developments were revealed by Eliud Owalo, the Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications, and the Digital Economy, during a recent statement.

"We are currently engaged in benchmarking exercises, having consulted with Estonia, Pakistan, Romania, Lithuania, and India to assess their successful initiatives and determine how we can adapt them to our unique circumstances. By March next year, our goal is to ensure that every Kenyan possesses a digital identity," Owalo announced.

He clarified that the government does not intend to reinvent the Huduma Namba initiative, which was a previous digital identity plan introduced by the Jubilee administration but failed to materialize even after Kenyans registered.

Owalo made these remarks while inaugurating the ICT Week, an event organized by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK). The workshop's theme focused on digital inclusion and the promotion of widespread access and utilization of information and communication technologies (ICTs). The Cabinet Secretary emphasized that the government is strengthening its cyber security systems to address the associated risks arising from digitalization.

"We are currently implementing the National Public Key Infrastructure to enhance trust through the issuance of digital signatures and certificates, among other risk mitigation measures," he stated.

Additionally, Owalo highlighted the government's ambitious plan to digitize 80 percent of government services within the next five years.

"The E-citizen platform is now fully operational. Since assuming office in September, we have transitioned 350 services online. As of this morning, we have successfully brought an additional 4,200 services onto the platform. Furthermore, we have announced our intention to digitize 5,000 services by June 30 this year," Owalo elaborated.

The Cabinet Secretary further disclosed that approximately 7,800 services have been identified for digitization.

Regarding the deployment of 100,000 kilometers of fiber optic cable, Owalo revealed that the Ministry has secured a budget of Sh5 billion from the Universal Service Fund under CAK, in addition to funding from the World Bank.

He also mentioned the government's plans to expand free WiFi access, targeting the establishment of 25,000 hotspots and ICT hubs in 1,450 wards.

"As we speak, our initial phase aims to roll out a minimum of 5,000 kilometers of fiber by June 30. We expect the private sector to contribute 42 percent of the project's funding, while the government will cover the remaining costs," Owalo added.

Regarding the production of locally manufactured, cost-effective smartphones, Owalo stated that the country has the capability to produce devices at a price range of 4,000 to Sh5,000 per unit.