Worldcoin -TheOrb Image Credits: Worldcoin

Worldcoin Project Runs into Kenyan Turbulence

By John Walubengo

The Cabinet Secretary in charge of Interior Security, Prof. Kithure Kindiki, ordered the Kenyan operations of a startup organization called Worldcoin to stop last week. 

This came after the media reported long queues of Kenyans who were receiving 50 USD, or about Ksh 7,000, for simply looking at a shiny globe-like object called the Orb.

The Communication Authority and the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner issued a joint statement asking Worldcoin to stop collecting data from Kenyans.

The Capital Markets Authority of Kenya (CMA) also warned the public against Worldcoin.

But in what seems to be a ‘soft’ rejoinder, one of the Worldcoin software engineers posted a tweet claiming that they have been in consultation with Kenyan regulatory authorities over the last year, and are perhaps a bit surprised by the recent full-force approach by various government agencies against Worldcoin.

Still, on Twitter posts, Worldcoin seems to have found a useful ally, in one Denis Itumbi, who, though not formally a government official, is potentially the next Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of ICT.

He has been posting friendly tweets that seem to support Worldcoin operations in Kenya, including this tweet where he claims Worldcoin has been audited by independent parties, passed the test, and is certified as being safe and secure.

So whom should ‘Wanjiku’ believe?

More Questions than Answers

Beyond collecting and pocketing the Ksh 7,000, Kenyans should be concerned about several things, including but not limited to: what exactly is Worldcoin going to do with that iris scan data? 

What is the long-term vision, mission, and objective of Worldcoin? Who owns Worldcoin?

What is this crypto-token, and how does it generate the 7,000/= that has contributed to long queues witnessed in Kenya, as desperate Kenyans cash out quick money in hard economic conditions?

These are valid questions 

However, there are also other equally valid questions, including but not limited to: Would Kenya’s clampdown on Worldcoin operations make us lose out on a golden opportunity to be part of something innovative, something monumental that may be a trigger for future socio-economic digital opportunities?

Kenya ICT Action Network (KICTANet), plans to host some online engagement to dissect and thrash out the good, the bad, and the ugly (risky) side of Worldcoin. 

Please sign up on the KICTANet list and prepare to learn and exchange your experiences on Worldcoin.


John Walubengo is an ICT Lecturer and Consultant. @jwalu.


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