We won’t extend deadline for SIM card registration, warns Chiloba

Communications Authority (CA) Director-General Ezra Chiloba. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Communications Authority (CA) Director-General Ezra Chiloba yesterday maintained that the deadline for SIM card registration will not be extended.

Addressing a press conference accompanied by representatives of Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom, Mr Chiloba said unregistered lines will be deactivated, and only activated once the customer follows the verification process.

He also dismissed claims that the exercise is a fresh registration process. 

Mobile service provider Safaricom had earlier said all subscribers will be required to register their SIM cards afresh, causing confusion.

“It cannot be fresh since all sim cards will stand null and void. We have agreed that this is not re-registration or fresh registration exercise,” said Mr Chiloba.

“It is an opportunity for operators and their customers to validate respective details of registration. The exercise will address the documentation gaps that have become commonplace,” he added. 

The CA boss said they issued the directive following an undercover survey done in March last year in 22 counties that exposed how some providers issue SIM cards without registration.

The survey revealed that SIM cards are also sold using another person’s ID card or proxy, or other documents, like the NSSF cards and student IDs, among others.

The study showed that SIM cards are given for free, using mostly fictitious identity card numbers therefore not resulting in registration but the sale of the line.

Safaricom says it is currently 65 per cent compliant with Airtel at 52 per cent so far. [File, Standard]

Chiloba noted that SIM cards are sold without the presentation of an identification document and no verification is done. 

He said this was aiding criminal activities like financial fraud and related crimes that prevail in situations of compromised SIM card registration process. “How can we win the war against such crimes if we cannot participate by ensuring that we have updated records?” He posed.

Many Kenyans over the weekend turned to social media to express their frustrations over the directive to register SIM cards afresh, and questioned the motive behind the same.

Some citizens questioned the timing of the move ahead of the elections.

But Mr Chiloba said it is purely a coincidence that the directive is being undertaken just months to elections.

Both the operator and the subscriber are to ensure full compliance with directive to register the SIM card or face six months imprisonment or a fine of up to Sh300,000.

The telcos said they are cooperating with their clients to ensure that there is full compliance.

Safaricom announced that they are 65 per cent compliant with Airtel at 52 per cent so far.

Telkom did not disclose their compliance rate.

Safaricom Risk Management Director, Nicholas Mulila, said they will be taking customers’ photos as a mechanism for data protection and security.