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Not all Kenyans need to register SIM cards afresh, says Communications Authority CEO Ezra Chiloba

Communications Authority of Kenya Director-General Ezra Chiloba during the launch of the Kenya Pipeline Company (KPC) Fibre Optic Cable at Serena Hotel in Nairobi on April 7, 2022. [Samson Wire, Standard]

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) says not all Kenyans need to register their SIM cards afresh.

This comes on the back of confusion ahead of April 15 deadline.

Different reports gave contradicting information in regard to who is supposed to register his or her SIM card, with certain quarters claiming it’s the entire telecommunications market, while other quarters stating that only the unlisted customers should seek registration.

The Communications Authority (CA) warned that unregistered SIM cards would be switched off by April 15, and their owners risk being fined up to Sh300,000 or serve a six-month jail term, or both.

Amid the confusion, The Standard on Saturday, April 9 reached CA Director-General Ezra Chiloba for clarification.

“The Communications Authority did not order the telecommunications companies to register all SIM card holders afresh,” Chiloba exclusively told The Standard.

“The people targeted are holders of SIM cards that haven’t been registered, or are registered using other people’s identification details, for instance minors who use their parents’ or guardians’ ID details for registration,” he said.

“However, if you are in doubt about the status of your line registration, feel free to visit your telecommunications service provider, or dial the USSD code *106# to confirm your status,” he said.

Chiloba said the telecommunications companies that asked all Kenyans to re-register their lines, were “overzealous”, saying: “That’s not what we asked them to do.”

The Director-General says the mobile service providers opted for a knee-jerk reaction after CA demanded that all the service providers must provide updated lists of all their registered customers by April 15, 2022.

He further said that failure to comply, would see the telecommunications companies being fined heavily alongside their unregistered customers, whose lines would still be active.

The Director-General’s remarks come on the back of uproar on social media, on why the government is seeking to engage in a redundant exercise, yet most Kenyans’ details are available on the mobile service providers’ database.

Online users cited M-Pesa and Airtel Money as the mobile service providers’ products that have “more than enough details” about them.

On March 16, 2022, Safaricom tweeted: “Did you know that you need to update your SIM registration details to avoid being disconnected? Visit any Safaricom shop or agent or dealer today with your ID.”

Seeking clarification on this Safaricom statement after furore over long registration queues, Kenya's High Commissioner to the UK Manoah Esipisu, said on Twitter: “[Safaricom], please post here the exact instructions from CA so [that] we are sure you are not being overzealous about a very simple direction.”

The words SIM Card, Safaricom, Airtel, M-Pesa trended on social media platform Twitter on Friday through Saturday morning amid confusion over the re-registration directive.

It’s, however, now clear that if you’re duly registered, you don’t have to queue again for re-registration.