Digital certificates will give each Kenyan a digital signature or seal that will be essential when identifying an individual or providing secure transaction. The digital signature will be essential when undertaking any transaction via the internet.
The signature will also provide evidence of an occurrence of a transaction as well as confirm any changes in a transaction.
The project is being undertaken by Samsung SDS from South Korea, under the Kenya Transparency and Communications Infrastructure project, which have experience of setting up such an initiative in South Korea.
According to the Ministry of Information the PKI project is no longer optional, but mandatory to guarantee security and verification of parties involved in electronic transactions with the growth of e-commerce.
The ministry adds the expansion of PKI technology will lead to a trusted environment over open networks with the overall benefit being the enhanced national competitive edge.
For the project to become fully functional the government will need to ensure: the establishment of electronic signature law and standards, construction of certification facilities and development of necessary PKI application services such as e-taxation, e-passport and e-health most of which are being created under e-government agency.
Legally the project is covered by the Kenya Information and Communications Act that defines electronic signatures and certificates.
Among the benefits foreseen once the system is up and running to government include an increase in confidence, trust and security of e-government, ensured interoperability of PKI infrastructure with other government agencies and the establishment of the national security plan.
For users the PKI will help reduce the time and cost of transactions, bring convenience of applications like online civil service and internet banking as e-business is simplified.