Kenya SIM card registration: could millions miss out?

Kenya SIM card registration: could millions miss out?

Yet another SIM card registration exercise is having problems after reports that in Kenya, as the latest registration deadline draws closer, some 15 million SIM cards could be rendered unusable by 15 October.

Various Kenyan news websites quote data from the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) that suggests that  8.2 million of Safaricom’s 42.53 million subscribers, 4.65 million of Airtel Kenya’s 17.04 million subscribers and 1.24 million of Telkom Kenya’s 3.42 million subscribers had yet to register by the end of August.

This is despite repeated reminders from all three operators to their customers to comply or face having their service disconnected, not to mention the CA’s extension of the deadline for SIM card registration by six months in April.

That said, the exercise has enjoyed some success, including the reported deactivation of 200,000 SIM cards registered using incorrect identifying information. In addition, new rules requiring consumers to hand over biometric information may make verification easier in future.

In fact, the CA is reportedly planning to create a database that will house all of a person’s or business’s mobile phone records in one place. The SIM card information stored in the database, will apparently be connected to other public databases including the Registrar of Companies and the Dead Persons’ Database.

Various countries, including Ghana and Nigeria, have carried out this exercise, giving a variety of reasons for it, including the need to curb fraudulent activities, to ensure secure SIM card-based transactions, to uncover false SIM registration by mobile phone scammers and to stop illicit usage of registered SIM cards belonging to dead people.

In all these countries the original deadline has had to be extended – many times in the case of Nigeria.

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