Driver’s License Special: Government Multiplies Profits as Applications Drop Drastically

Hello and welcome to the evening newsletter, where we track driver’s license activity.

State Visit Update: Since landing in Atlanta on Monday afternoon, President William Ruto has met with numerous organisations, including Kenyans in the diaspora. The key points that emerge from the interactions are;

  • Signing of MoU between the CDC and the Kenya Medical Research Institute, the Ministry of Health and the US President’s Emergency Plan for the joint proclamation for the operationalization of the Kenya National Institute of Public Health.
  • Five Kenyan universities will sign a student exchange program with their American counterparts.
  • CS Miano is set to sign a framework collaboration agreement with Coca Cola for an investment of Ksh27 billion over the next five years committed to capacity and capacity expansion. This will create jobs, increase local sourcing and make Kenya a hub of the mango supply chain in Africa.
  • Ruto’s dedication to ensuring the placement of Kenyans in jobs abroad. It has signed an agreement with Germany and another 19 are in process.

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DL profiting

Inquiries on Monday by the National Assembly’s Departmental Committee on Transport and Infrastructure revealed the amount of profit the government makes from processing smart driving licences.

The Committee was concerned that the National Treasury had only allocated Sh140 million for the issuance of smart driving licenses in the 2024/25 financial year.

The funds were expected to facilitate the processing of 400,000 driving licenses, meaning that Each DL costs 350 Kenyan shillings to produce.

Burden for applicants; Meanwhile, applying for a driving license through the eCitizen portal costs applicants Ksh3,050.

The new fee tripled the Ksh1,000 application and renewal fee that drivers were expected to pay when applying for the old driving licence.

A collage of a driving license issued in Kenya by the NTSA



Get up to speed quickly: In recent months, the National Transport and Safety Authority has carried out a campaign to force Kenyan drivers to upgrade from the old driving license to the smart version.

  • In April this year, the authority announced that it was determined to eliminate all old driving licenses within three years. Smart driver licenses will allow the State to implement instant fines and point systems to enforce traffic laws.
  • “This is critical to the integrity of future road safety and will be accompanied by identity checks to eliminate identity fraud through the licensing system,” the NTSA stated in its 2024 National Road Safety Action Plan. -2028.
  • “With every Kenya smart driving license, it will be possible to manage and implement an instant fine regime and demerit points system.”

It is not clear whether the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Transport, Mohamed Daghar, clarified that the budget will be revised upwards or downwards.

Waning interest in driving

Meanwhile, it seems that Kenyans interested in getting behind the wheel is decreasing.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), in its 2024 Economic Survey Report released on Monday, said 457,095 original driving licenses were processed in 2023, up from 602,926 the previous year.

The difference: This means that applications decreased by 145,831. Applications in 2021 amounted to 384,004.

What the report said: “The number of PSV permits issued doubled from 35,897 in 2022 to 71,980 in 2023. The number of original permits issued decreased by 22.5 percent, from 602,926 in 2022 to 467,095 in 2023. The number of PSV permit conversions driving almost doubled from 1,542 in 2022 to 2,831 in 2023”,

Probable factors: In recent months, the NTSA has upped the ante by pressuring Kenyan drivers to apply for new smart driving licenses.

  • However, the new driving license carries an application fee of Ksh3,050, which is triple the Ksh1,000 that previous drivers needed to renew their old driving licences.
  • Additionally, the state tightened its rules on the existence of driving schools, causing 51 institutions to close since 2019, leaving fewer schools on the market.
  • The number of applications for driving licenses is likely to decline further after the Finance Bill 2024 proposed a motor vehicle tax requiring car owners to pay between Ksh5,000 and Ksh100,000 each year.

Of note: Smart driving licenses were introduced in 2021, but their rollout was stepped up in 2023 as part of the government’s plan to ensure sanity on the roads and reduce carnage.

Compared: KNBS data showed PSV licenses doubled from 35,897 to 71,980, with the 14-seater matatus leading the revolution.

By the numbers on the road: The severity of accidents also decreased.

  • The KNBS said the total number of traffic accidents reported was 9,960, up from 9,976 the previous year. While the number of injured or dead increased from 21,758 to 22,885, those killed in accidents fell from 4,690 to 4,324.

    NTSA Safety Compliance Checks at Kariene, Meru/Nkubu Road on March 31, 2024.



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This newsletter was written by Derrick Kubasu and edited by Brian Muuo.

Washington Myth contributed to the content.

Graphics prepared by Silvia Kalulu.