Nairobi – Thousands of mobile phone subscribers with unregistered SIM cards will be blocked from the telecoms’ networks in the next 90 days as the regulator moves to enforce new rules meant to clear the system of criminals.
The planned switch-off comes in the wake of the Communications Authority of Kenya’s (CA) publication of new regulations that are intended to complement the SIM card registration laws that were passed two years ago.
The Kenya Information and Communication Act, 2013 requires telecommunication operators to register their subscribers within a specified period and keep their details.
Non-compliance with the law is an offence punishable by a fine not exceeding Sh5 million.
The new regulations, which define the legal process for deactivation of SIM cards, came into effect mid last month – meaning subscribers with unregistered SIM cards have about 65 days before losing their lines.
Kenya’s leading telecoms operator Safaricom said it was in the process of verifying details of some SIM cards on its network through the Integrated Population Registration System before taking action.
Safaricom has 23.3 million prepaid subscribers, according to the latest industry statistics for the year ended June 2015. The operator said more than 23 million of the total are fully registered, leaving 300,000 at risk of deactivation.
“Under Safaricom’s current SIM registration process, no SIMs are pre-activated at the point of sale. All customers must provide the required registration documents and register before the SIM card is activated,” Stephen Chege, Safaricom director in charge of corporate affairs, said in a statement.
Telkom Kenya said all its subscribers were registered, while Airtel Kenya did not respond to our queries on the matter.
The regulations require telecoms operators to send a personal notice to unregistered subscribers warning them of the intended suspension of their lines.
Subsequent notices may be in the form of an advertisement in a newspaper of national circulation or an advertisement in an electronic medium that broadcast throughout the country.
SIM cards are ultimately deactivated when telecommunication services to the subscriber have been suspended for a period of 90 days.