The Computer Society of Kenya

Since 1986

digitalBUSINESS DAILY By DR KIPRONOH RONOH

The government’s vision is to empower Kenyans in a digitally enabled society as per the country’s Digital Economy Blueprint 2019.

It states that we envision a nation where every citizen, enterprise and organisation has digital access as well as can participate and thrive in the digital economy.

This is the dream of every Kenyan citizen. With the rising cost of living, a digitally-enabled economy will not only ease the burden of travelling to get these services but also have the added advantage of eliminating bureaucracy that comes with transparency risks.

In the past 10 years, we have experienced significant improvement in service delivery through digitisation initiatives.

Gone are the days when you would have to physically visit the Kenya Revenue Authority to drop off your tax returns and visit National Health Insurance Fund to deliver your monthly payment. We now have more than 30 services that are available online.

These include iTax, certificate of good conduct issuance, business registration services, Civil Registration Department and application of passports.

The digital economy and transactions ecosystem will enable the electronic identification of persons, entities, organisations and machines reliably. The need for this trust, called “trust online” requires the adoption of a digital identity for both corporates and individuals.

Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) technology using digital certificates — equivalent to electronic identity cards or wet ink signatures — is a highly secure form of electronic identification that also protects electronic data.

A digital signature or an electronic signature is a mathematical formula routinely used to prove that a transaction is genuine for example, an email, a credit card transaction or a digital document.

Digital signatures create a virtual fingerprint that is unique to a person, an individual or an entity and is used to identify users and protect the information in digital messages or documents and associate them with specific persons. In emails, the content itself becomes part of the digital signature.

The integration of digital signatures into various government services as a form of online security and identity will increase the level of trust between customers, business partners, vendors and ultimately the citizens. This will be achieved through:

Authentication: The digital signature guarantees a person’s online identity for the service.

Integrity: Detects any changes that may have taken place accidentally or intentionally while the data is stored or transmitted over the Internet.

Non-repudiation: Ensures all parties to a transaction cannot convincingly deny having participated in the deal.

The confidentiality service enables electronic data to be protected and controls access to the data using high-level authentication mechanisms. For the government and private sector to reap the full benefits of e-commerce and m-commerce, we have to fully trust the supporting infrastructure — the Internet.

This is why we need to embrace digital signatures, the missing link.

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