State to outlaw SIM card hawking

It will be illegal to sell SIM cards without a license from the government from next year.

The Communication Authority of Kenya, CA has developed a new policy that introduces new guidelines for telecommunication service providers on the sale and registration of SIM-Cards.

The guidelines, currently open for public participation, include requirements for registration agents to be licensed by the Authority before they can sell or register SIM Cards.

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“Telecommunications Operators shall ensure that they engage the services of authorized or licensed registration Agents with a valid compliance certificates issued by the Authority,” explain the draft guidelines in part.

“Telecommunications Operators and Registration Agents shall sell and register SIM cards only in formal retail outlets even during promotions, and shall ensure no hawking of SIM Cards registration services,” states the guidelines.

The new policy is likely to affect tens of thousands of agents and vendors who sell and register new SIM Cards on behalf of telecommunication operators.

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Latest industry data indicates the number of mobile subscribers hit 51 million as at the end of March 2019, against the country’s population of 47 million people. This implies that millions of subscribers have multiple SIM Cards, some being inactive, even as telecommunication service providers still count them as active subscriptions.

In addition to this, telecommunications operators and agents intending to perform promotional activities will have to inform the CA two weeks in advance, providing details of planned activities including venue, physical address, county and duration.

CA also wants mobile operators to actively demonstrate efforts they have put in place to protect consumers’ personal information. This includes “a description of the systems currently in place/or introduced to securely store subscriber registration particulars – both digital and the physical documentation.”

Service providers will also have to provide the name of the software used to secure this data, its developer, security features, traceability and redundancy provision.

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