The Kenyan government has introduced a fee for national identity cards, which has angered many citizens.
Until now, people in Kenya have received ID cards for free when they turn 18, but new applicants are now required to pay a fee of 1,000 Kenyan shillings ($6; £5), the cost of replacing ID cards has also increased 20-fold to 2,000 shillings.
These charges have caused widespread outrage among Kenyans, particularly on social media. The government introduced the fee without any prior notice. The revised fees also affect other government-issued documents, including passports, marriage certificates, work and residence permits, and birth and death certificates.
The cost of obtaining or replacing various categories of passports has increased by more than 50%, while the fees for obtaining birth and death certificates have risen by more than four times, reaching 200 shillings. Marriage certificates 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 increased 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. These increases are part of 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 fees for government services that they believe are already funded by their taxes. The sudden and substantial increases have raised concerns that they could create obstacles for poorer Kenyans who need government services or wish to participate in processes that require government documents, such as voting and marriage.
According to the World Bank, 27% of Kenyans live below the poverty line, spending less than $2.15 a day. Some politicians have criticized the price hikes, while some government officials have disputed them. Roseline Njogu, who heads the department of diaspora affairs, said the increase in permanent residence fees for children of Kenyan citizens born abroad “were entered in error” and will be corrected.
Since coming to power last year, President Ruto’s government has increased taxes on necessities like fuel and charges on several services offered by the government, such as entry to national parks.
These measures have led to an increase in transport, electricity and commodity prices, which led to opposition cost-of-living protests earlier this year. President Ruto is expected to deliver his first state of the nation address later on Thursday, outlining some of the achievements of his administration over the past year and the measures he proposes to take to tackle debt and the high cost of living.