Chiloba clarifies order: 'Not all Kenyans need to register SIM card afresh'

queue Safaricom sim cards registration

A queue outside a Safaricom shop along Kimathi Street on April 7, 2022. 

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The ongoing countrywide registration of SIM cards has caused uproar and confusion among Kenyans, even as many rushed to beat the April 15 deadline set by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA).

Mobile service provider Safaricom said that all subscribers will be required to register their identity details afresh and in person, even as Airtel and Telkom encouraged their customers to upload their details online.

However, CA, in a statement, said not everyone is required to register their details afresh, adding to the confusion facing subscribers.

“The major complaint we have had is the requirement of photos and everything. The regulations do not anticipate that we are going to take a photograph of you.

“And so if you are duly registered, then you do not need to go to your operator and service provider to get re-registered,” said CA director-general Ezra Chiloba, at the Kuza Awards held at a Nairobi hotel yesterday.

Kenyans can confirm their registration status by dialing *106#. 

Frustrations

Many Kenyans yesterday turned to social media to express their frustrations, with some of the new requirements for registration, as others questioned the motive behind the directive, as well as its timing.

“Please, post here the exact instructions from CA so that we are sure you are not being overzealous about a very simple direction,” Kenya’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom Manoah Esipisu posted on his Twitter handle, tagging Safaricom.

Mobile service providers continued to witness long queues as Kenyans lined up in different registration centres in the capital Nairobi and in other parts of the country to comply with the government directive.

Registration centres set up by mobile service providers in various parts of the city were, for the better part of yesterday, a hive of activity as mobile phone users rushed to update their details ahead of next week’s deadline.

But even as this happened, some questioned the timing of the directive, and the April 15 deadline, which they termed suspect, as well as the requirement that all users physically go to register their SIM cards.

Old habits

“Why are some service providers using the old ways of doing things? Provide us with links to update our SIM cards wherever we are. No time to come lining in your shops,” Mr Felix Tyson posed on twitter.

For some, the process had also become cumbersome and tiring, with some of those who had turned up to register within the central business district narrating their frustrations at queueing for long hours.

“I want to re-register my number because I don’t have the money to pay for the fine. It is better to do it now rather than incur unnecessary costs,” said Ms Charity Wangeci, as she waited to be served.

Safaricom, Airtel and even Telkom had in their communications to their customers asked them to turn up and register their SIM cards or risk being switched off after next week, a move they linked to a directive issued by CA.

Safaricom advised all its subscribers, including those using previously registered SIM cards, to re-register, insisting that while all SIM cards are registered on purchase, sometimes not all data was captured.

“This issue tends to affect some of the older customers on our networks. It is for this reason that the Communications Authority has asked us to invite all customers to submit their details as soon as possible,” Safaricom said in a statement, adding that it had committed to doing its best to ensure all its customers comply with the directive before the deadline.

Mr Chiloba said the current registration drive is part of the Registration of SIM Cards Regulations, 2015, which required all mobile service providers in the country to provide CA with an updated list of the details of their subscribers.

“The concerns raised by people on the process are legitimate, but we must be honest whether we understand what is at stake. Ensure that by 15 April 2022, your SIM card is duly registered,” said Mr Chiloba.

Mobile money fraud

Mr Chiloba also said the registration of SIM cards was still low, sometimes leading to crimes such as mobile money fraud, which could, otherwise, be easily avoided if all Kenyans followed the law.

He said that data from the CA indicated that at least 65 million SIM cards were in circulation, but a lesser number had been legally registered.

“We must ensure each subscriber is duly registered. We have about 65 million SIM cards active in Kenya. It means each person born in Kenya has a number attached to them. But we know the fact is most people have more than one SIM card,” Mr Chiloba said.

“Looking at the situation across the currently, the compliance levels on SIM card registration are not looking good. How do we know that you are duly registered? By dialing *106# you can know which numbers are registered in your name.”

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