15 million Kenyans risk being switched off mobile networks

Millions of Kenyan mobile phone subscribers risk being switch off from their respective networks as the deadline to register their SIM cards approaches.

About 15 million mobile subscribers had not registered their SIM cards by August 30, few weeks before the October 15 deadline to do so.

Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) data shows 80.7 per cent of Safaricom’s 42.53 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards by the end of August with some 8.2 million yet to do so.

Airtel Kenya with 17.04 million subscribers was still waiting for some 4.65 million customers to register their lines with 72.7 per cent having done so.

Meanwhile, Telkom Kenya had the least SIM card registration ratio among the three leading telcos as of August 30, with data showing it had registered only 36.3 per cent (1.24 million) out of its 3.42 million subscribers by the end of August.

CA puts Kenya’s SIM subscriptions at 64.67 million. The low registration rates come even as the telcos continue to remind their subscribers to comply or risk being switched off.

It is less than two weeks to the closure of registration on October 15 in line with a directive from the CA.

“Your line is not registered and will be disconnected by October 15,” Safaricom said in text messages to its unregistered clients.

In April, CA extended the deadline for SIM card registration by six months to allow millions of users to comply with its directive that seeks to weed out fraudsters and other criminals from subscriber databases held by the telcos.

The regulator had set a deadline of April 15 for the exercise that was derailed by a low volume of the number of Kenyans turning up to register their details initially before long queues closer to the set date forced CA to extend the registration.

The CA says the SIM registration drive has already seen some 200,000 SIM cards deactivated after they were found to be registered under wrong identification details.

Further, CA has proposed new regulations that will require subscribers to surrender their biometric data such as fingerprints and facial features that enhance their identification during SIM card registration.

The CA is eyeing a database that will be a one-stop shop for mobile phone records of individuals and companies for ease of verification and retrieval.

The database will contain SIM card subscribers’ information and will be linked with government databases such as the Registrar of Companies and dead persons’ database.

The move seeks to weed out mobile phone fraudsters besides helping prevent the use of registered SIMs belonging to dead persons for fraud.


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