Mandatory SIM card registration for Kenyans

Mobile phone subscribers in Kenya have up to the end of next month to have their SIM cards registered, failure to which they risk having them deactivated.

Information minister, Samuel Poghisio, said the move is aimed at safeguarding Kenyans against rising cases of mobile phone crime.

In a speech read on his behalf, Poghisio said his ministry will introduce amendments to the existing law to effectively deal with mobile phone crime.

“Kenya cannot afford to ignore or be left behind on initiatives aimed at safeguarding the public against such activities. We owe it to all Kenyans to ensure that everyone is safe,” said the minister.

There has been a sharp increase in mobile related crimes that include handset thefts, threats and hate messages, extortions, drug trafficking, kidnappings and money laundering, among others.

The registration exercise kicks-off following president Mwai Kibaki’s order last year July to register all SIM cards for all the mobile subscribers in the country.

Kenya now joins nine other African countries including Tanzania, South Africa, Ethiopia and Nigeria that have already registered mobile subscribers.

Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) director general, Charles Njoroge, dismissed fears that registration would hamper the growth of the telecommunications sector.

Njoroge assured that the information collected during the registration exercise will be treated as confidential and will only be availed to the authorities to the extent permitted by the law.

Mobile service providers have lauded the process saying it will help the government deal with mobile related insecurity acts.

“We will sensitise and appeal to the public to have their SIM cards registered, we have already registered 40% of our customers,” said Rene Meza, chief executive of Zain Kenya.

Concerns have been raised over the possible deactivation of SIM cards being held by persons who have multiple cards or have no proper documentation to warrant registration.