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Strengthening Citizen-Centred Public Service in Kenya through Huduma Centres


Citizen-centred public service in Kenya represents a transformative approach to governance, placing the needs, experiences, and satisfaction of citizens at the core of service delivery. As a nation, the government has prioritized responsive and people-centric governance, seeking to build a public service sector that is accessible, efficient, and accountable to its population.

To achieve this, the government established a one-stop-shop that is meant to offer citizen-centred public services, which include birth certificate application and collection, application for national Identity and registration, registration of self-help groups, Kenya University and Colleges Central Placement Services, student loan application services, issuance of duplicate ID cards, Kenya Accountants and Secretaries National Examinations Board  (KASNEB) services, The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) services, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) services, Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO), among others. The provision of citizen-centred service is anchored in the Constitution of Kenya under Article 232 on the values and principles that govern public service in Kenya, and in the Kenya Vision 2030 under the political pillar, which seeks to strengthen public institutions and promote integrity in public service delivery.

In addition, the government has established the E-citizen platform as an innovative public service delivery channel that supplements the role of the Huduma centre to improve efficiency in service delivery. The E-citizen is an online digital platform where citizens can access and make payments for public services using online payment methods. The platform is integrated with the Huduma centres, which is a physical platform where citizens visit to seek services over the counter. While we acknowledge that Huduma centres have been key to unlocking the effectiveness and efficiency in public service delivery, gaps exist in some counties regarding the effectiveness and efficiency of Huduma centres in public service delivery. This policy blog focuses on the status, emerging technological issues, policy gaps and recommendations on citizen-centred public service delivery through Huduma centres.

Status and Policy Issues Affecting Public Service Delivery in Huduma Centres

Distribution of Huduma centres

Huduma centres in Kenya were officially launched on 4th April 2014 by the Kenyan government. The first Huduma centre was inaugurated in Nairobi, and the initiative has expanded to include multiple centres in counties. There are 52 Huduma centres established since the inception of the programme, and which are fully operational. The centres serve on average 42,000 people daily. There are 73 services deployed to the different Huduma services, and each of the centres provides 20-55 services from government agencies.

Figure 1: Population density per Huduma centre per county (2023)

Source: Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (2023), Economic Survey

Currently, Nairobi County has five (5) Huduma centres, followed by Kajiado County with two (2), and the rest of the counties have one (1) centre each as shown in Figure 1.

Emerging technological issues in public service delivery in Huduma centres

The adoption and use of digital platforms have created concerns about cybercrime, data privacy, and unequal access to digital services in some counties. To achieve a citizen-centred approach calls for measures to reduce cybercrime, strengthen data privacy, and reduce the digital divide between rural and urban areas.


Huduma centres rely heavily on digital platforms to streamline processes and enhance the accessibility of public services. However, the prevalence of cybercrime poses a significant threat to the security of personal data and the confidentiality of transactions conducted at Huduma centres.

During the period January-March 2023, the Kenya Computer Incident Response Team – Coordination Centre (KE-CIRT-CC) detected 187,757,659 cyber threat events, which was a 24.89% decrease from the 249,991,852 threat events detected in the previous period, October-December 2022 (KE-CIRT-CC, 2023). The cases of cyber threat events detected are attributed to the significant increase in targeted attacks at critical systems and services, increased activity by ransomware groups, and adoption of more sophisticated tools by cyber threat actors.

Other challenges include vulnerabilities to targeted attacks of Internet of Things (IoT) devices, third-party mobile application attacks, and increased attacks on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS).

Data privacy

Data privacy issues in Huduma centres raise concerns regarding the safeguarding of personal information collected during service provision. The key policy issue is ensuring security and privacy of personal data and information. While these centres aim to streamline the delivery of public services, the potential of mishandling or unauthorized access to sensitive personal data is a key issue of concern. The Data Protection Act (2019) seeks to protect the privacy of individuals, regulate the processing of personal data, and establish legal and institutional mechanisms to protect personal data.

Digital divide

Kenya faces a significant digital divide, with 44% of the urban population having access to the Internet compared to 17% in rural areas. The digital divide describes the gap between demographics and regions that have access to modern information and communications technology and those that do not. The digital divide poses a challenge to the accessibility and utilization of Huduma centre services because emerging technologies play a pivotal role in public service delivery. Huduma centres strive to provide a centralized platform for citizens to access various government services, but digital divide exists among the rural and marginalized communities that have low digital literacy, lack Internet access, lack electricity connectivity, and have poor technological infrastructure to access public service.

Identified Gaps in Public Service Delivery through Huduma Centres

Provision of citizen-centred public service in Huduma centres in Kenya faces several gaps, impeding the delivery of services to citizens. These include the inaccessibility of Huduma centres, poor Internet connectivity, poor infrastructure, and unavailability of certain public services.

Inaccessibility of Huduma services by those living in rural areas is a big problem due to the proximity of Huduma centres at county headquarters. Citizens  travel for long distances and incur high costs, which imposes a disproportional burden when seeking public service. To improve the accessibility of public services, the government could set up Huduma centres in every sub-county headquarters, considering the geographic and demographic features of various sub-counties.

Weak Internet connectivity is a significant technological challenge affecting the efficiency of service delivery in Huduma centres, especially among marginalized communities and counties. Kenya has only 32.7% Internet penetration rate and lacks strong Internet connectivity. This leads to slow serving delivery, extended waiting time, and disruption in online services. A strong Internet connection is necessary for several services, such as online application procedures and real-time data verification. In addition, there is a challenge of electricity connectivity and supply, which affects Internet connectivity.

Inadequate infrastructure, such as inadequate infrastructure in Huduma centres, contributes to service delivery constraints due to inadequate funding. The Huduma centres do not run efficiently when they lack basic amenities such as printers, laptops, and safe places to store private data. It is essential to fix these infrastructural gaps for Huduma centres to operate at maximum capacity and offer effective services to the public.

Unavailability of certain public services within Huduma centres. Biometric services for passport application may not be available in all Huduma centres. Lack of biometric services undermines the accuracy and the security of identity verification, thus compromising the efficiency and effectiveness of Huduma centres in offering public service. The government needs to adequately equip and implement modern technologies to ensure that Huduma centres have biometric services for customer verification using fingerprints, face, iris, and voice biometrics. Other services that are lacking in Huduma centres and that need to be integrated with centralized biometric services for efficient public service include digital assistants, avatars, self-service kiosks, and virtual centres.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Huduma centres have played a significant role in revolutionizing public service delivery and establishing a citizen-centric approach that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of public service delivery. They have become essential hubs for citizens to conveniently access a wide range of government services. To enhance citizen-centred public service delivery, there is need for the establishment of Huduma centres in each sub-county to increase accessibility. This will reduce long-distance travel and travel costs and improve access to public service at the ward and sub-county levels. Additionally, the government may consider continuous policy refinement to enhance the range of public services offered, and the efficiency of existing Huduma centres.

There is need for good and Internet connectivity in all Huduma centres to improve access to public service. Strengthening Internet connectivity improves the effectiveness and efficiency of online applications and enhances real-time data verification. The government could consider investing in dependable, and fast Internet infrastructure to accommodate the increasing number of services offered through Huduma centres.

Adequate infrastructure in Huduma centres is necessary to strengthen public service delivery. The government could allocate more resources to strengthen the infrastructure at Huduma centres and ensure that all necessary equipment such as printers, laptops, and Internet points are in place.  In addition, biometric services could be availed at every Huduma centre to improve identity verification and authentication.

Cybersecurity measures should be implemented across all Huduma centres to safeguard sensitive citizen data and prevent cyber threats.  In addition, comprehensive data privacy regulations could be enforced to ensure that citizens’ personal information is protected and utilized ethically. Moreover, bridging the digital divide is essential to ensure equitable access to Huduma centre services. This involves expanding Internet connectivity, providing digital literacy training, and offering alternative service channels for citizens with limited digital access.

Author: Elijah Kirimi KIPPRA Young Professional

Peter KipkorirKIPPRA Young Professional

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