New ID card charge sparks outcry in Kenya

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William Ruto

Kenya’s government has imposed a charge for national identity cards, provoking the ire of many citizens.

Until now, Kenyans have acquired ID cards for free upon reaching 18, but new applicants now face a fee of 1,000 Kenyan shillings ($6; £5).

The cost of replacing ID cards has also increased 20-fold to 2,000 shillings.

The new charges, which come amid a spiralling cost-of-living crisis, have ignited widespread an outcry among Kenyans, especially on social media.

The revised fees also affect other government-issued documents, such as passports, marriage certificates, work and residence permits and birth and death certificates.

Obtaining or replacing various categories of passports will cost more than 50% more, while the fees for obtaining birth and death certificates have increased by more than four times, reaching 200 shillings.

Marriage certificates will now cost 100,000 shillings, more than triple the previous amount, while the cost of civil weddings has risen 10-fold to 50,000 shillings.

The government has also hiked the cost of acquiring citizenship or residence, including doubling the amount payable for children born to Kenyan citizens abroad to acquire permanent residence in Kenya to one million shillings.

The hikes are the latest in a series of revenue-generating measures introduced by President William Ruto’s administration since he came to power last year.

Many Kenyans have complained about paying higher for government services that they believe are already funded by their taxes.

The substantial and abrupt increases have raised concerns that they could create barriers for poorer Kenyans to access government services or participate in processes that require government documents, such as voting and marriage.

“Jokes aside, paying for an ID excludes a group of people from voter registration hence a huge hindrance to the realization of the right to vote,” one Kenyan said on the social platform X.

According to the World Bank, 27% of Kenyans live under the poverty line, spending less than $2.15 a day.

Some politicians have also criticised the price hikes, while some government officials have disputed them.

Roseline Njogu, who heads the department of diaspora affairs, said the price hike in the permanent residence fees for children of Kenyan citizens born abroad “were entered in error” and will be rectified.

Since coming to power in September last year, President Ruto’s government has increased taxes on necessities like fuel, as well as charges on several services offered by the government, such as entry to national parks.

These measures have had a spiralling effect on transport, electricity and commodity prices, which led to opposition cost-of-living protests earlier this year.

President Ruto has not commented on the increases, but is expected to deliver his first state of the nation address later on Thursday, outlining some of the achievements by his administration over the past year and the measures he proposes to take to tackle debt and the high cost of living.

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