Kenya ushers in eCitizen era with NPKI
Digital transformation led by National Public Key Infrastructure
As digital technologies become an integral part of modern governments, securing the national digital infrastructure is of utmost importance. As more and more services get digitized, governments face the risk of identity fraud and data breaches that could compromise sensitive data and bring essential services to a halt. Governments must take care that sensitive national information stored and processed within their systems is shielded from unauthorized access.
The Information and Communication Technology Authority of Kenya (ICTA) wanted to implement a National Public Key Infrastructure (NPKI) aimed at facilitating secure growth of the national digital infrastructure and achieving compliance with global standards and technologies.
NPKI allows governments to guarantee the confidentiality and integrity of critical national data. Data encryption and certificate-based authentication ensure that only the right people get access to the right information whereas digital signatures promise non-repudiation.
After a rigorous evaluation process, ICTA chose Nexus’ multi-tenant and flexible PKI platform to deploy a highly scalable NPKI Government Certification Authority (GCA) for Kenya.
Enabling secure access for government employees
The Nexus solution will enable secure authentication and access for ICTA employees with PKI-based trusted digital IDs. These digital IDs can be issued on mobile PKI applications, virtual smart cards, or USB crypto tokens. The employees will use these trusted digital IDs for document signing, email signing and encryption, and to securely log into internal applications. Certificate-based multi-factor authentication (MFA) adds another layer of security to make sure that only authorized personnel get access to internal systems.
This solution will also be deployed in various Kenyan Ministries to enhance the security of sensitive information and systems. For example, at the Ministry of Interior, it will help protect the national citizen register; at the Ministry of Finance, it can help enforce access rules where only the people with the right authorization can access the financial data of central and national banks.
Promote trust in e-government services
A secure e-government system can boost operational efficiency, reduce costs, and provide citizens with a more convenient way to access government services. NPKI enables comprehensive security for a wide range of citizen-facing applications and digital services.
With Nexus Smart ID Mobile PKI, Kenya will roll out digital identities to millions of citizens to achieve sustainable scalability. Citizens will be able to use Mobile PKI for authentication to public services, e-governance portals, etc.
For example, if a resident wishes to file their taxes online, they can log into Kenya Revenue Authority's portal using certificates issued by ICTA on FIPS-compliant Smart ID crypto hardware tokens or Smart ID Mobile PKI. This will ensure that only authorized and legitimate users can access tax information. The same certificate can be used to digitally sign documents and applications for, say land title registration at the Ardhisasa portal. This change will truly digitize e-government services and take away the need to physically print, sign, and scan documents.
While drastically simplifying the processes for millions of Kenyan citizens and residents, the solution will bring immense security benefits in terms of data integrity, non-repudiation, and privacy.
Endless possibilities with a future-proof solution
“The possibilities with a sound national PKI infrastructure are countless. ICTA’s decision to implement a National PKI is a significant step in promoting trust within its national digital infrastructure and we are excited to be a part of this project of long-term strategic importance for the Kenyan government,” says Vincent Rariewa, director at Next Technologies, Nexus' trusted partner in the region.
"The Nexus PKI platform is a proven and robust solution that supports the issuance and validation of billions of identities for employees, citizens, things, and smart devices. Using the Nexus Registration Authority (RA) for multiple tenants, ICTA can create custom workflows and approval processes for each client they onboard. Based on global security standards, it will boost Kenyan digital infrastructure’s compliance with international standards and regulations, while enhancing interoperability," adds Lloyd Rodrigues, regional sales head for MEA at Nexus.