Give Kenyans IDs and passports before opening borders

Tuesday December 5 2017

Kenyans have continued to analyse the implications of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to open our borders to the rest of Africa.

Although many have lauded the move, saying it will increase economic opportunities, others are of the opinion that, if not well thought and implemented, it could make Kenya vulnerable to insecurity — radicalisation and violent extremism.

Security pundits opine that, before the open border policy is implemented, the State should address internal grievances of identity and opportunities.

One, it is still difficult for some Kenyans to obtain a national identity card (ID), passport or land title deed/lease agreement.


Many youth from the coastal, north-eastern and upper eastern regions still find it difficult to acquire IDs. During application, they are subjected to endless vetting while others are told to pay bribes to get it. They lament that their name, religion or race work against them.

How will these Kenyans feel when other Africans, with their respective national IDs, enjoy similar benefits as their hosts?

Will this not further entrench the narrative of marginalisation and profiling of some Kenyans?

Remember, extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab and Isis have been hyping alleged religious discrimination to gain sympathy and recruit young people.