Register every SIM card

Mobile network operators should make it easier for their subscribers yet to register their SIM cards and are unable to visit their offices to do so, and also ensure that they collect accurate data from all users.

That could see all mobile lines registered by the October 15 deadline, which would boost the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) target of creating an accurate database.

The recent revelation that some 15 million mobile subscribers have not yet registered their SIM cards barely two weeks to the extended deadline does not augur well for efforts by the government to rid the mobile sector of fraudsters. With all SIM cards registered, the crime rate would go down as security agencies can easily track down criminals using their lines.

However, official data show 80.7 per cent of Safaricom’s 42.53 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards by that time with some 8.2 million of its users yet to do so in the mass exercise. Airtel Kenya was still waiting for some 4.65 million of its 17.04 million subscribers to register their lines with only 72.7 per cent having carried out the registration.

Telkom Kenya had the least SIM card registration ratio among the three leading telcos, having registered just 36.3 per cent (1.24 million) out of its 3.42 million subscribers.

Kenya has 64.67 SIM subscriptions, according to CA data.

The low registration rate should, however, come as no surprise as Kenyans have an enduring habit of doing things at the last minute. While the initial deadline for the SIM card registration was April 15, the CA extended it by six months to allow more subscribers who had not registered their lines to do so.

The extension was ample time for Kenyans to find time in their busy schedules to register their SIM cards, and the low registration rate indicates that they could be waiting for another mad rush at the last minute—or even another extension. The CA should not tolerate this behaviour and, therefore, ought not extend the deadline any further.