Sigh of relief as CA extends SIM card registration by 6 months

Kakamega town residents queue at a Safaricom shop. Subscribers have until mid-October to update details on their lines. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has extended the deadline for SIM card registration by six months, relieving the pressure on subscribers who were rushing to comply.

The regulator said yesterday registration will now run until October 15 even as Safaricom joined Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya in rolling out online registration following the lapse of the initial deadline.

The announcement by the regulator came as a relief to millions of subscribers who had been caught unawares by the requirement to update their details to include a copy of their identity card.

Many subscribers, especially those registered for mobile money, had for long thought they were fully registered only for telcos to start asking for copies of identity cards in line with the CA order.

The rush to beat the deadline had seen many agents in the city estates start charging between Sh50 and Sh100 to help customers address the documentation gaps.

Miscommunication on how SIM cards should be registered has been blamed for the rush by subscribers to comply with the 2015 regulations that all of a sudden look new.

CA Director for Universal Service Fund Christopher Kemei told The Standard this week that up to 40 per cent of the total subscribers needed to update their details with their respective service providers.

“In terms of percentage of registered numbers that don’t have all the necessary details, the figures range between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of the total subscribers,” said Mr Kemei. CA puts the number of mobile subscribers in the country at 65 million as at December 2021, meaning that up to 26 million customers may have to update their details.

The regulator says customers who will remain unregistered beyond the mid-October deadline will be fined.

Airtel and Telkom had switched to online updating of customers’ details and Safaricom, with the majority of the subscribers, was facing pressure from customers who have been contending with long queues at the telco’s shops.

Safaricom currently leads the market with 41.6 million subscribers followed by Airtel (16.3 million), Telkom Kenya (four million), Equitel (1.4 million) and Jamii Telecommunications Ltd (236,332).

The portal allows customers to key in their number to receive a unique code to verify that it is them seeking the registration. They are then allowed to proceed by uploading copies of their national identity cards.

Telcos had first rolled out a service for customers to check all mobile phone numbers registered under their identity card numbers.

This was in the wake of complaints that fraudsters were using improperly registered numbers to steal money.

With telecommunications services now intertwined with financial services, thanks to mobile money, CA says more focus will now have to be on agents and sub-agents contracted by telcos.

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