The long queues that had become conspicuous at the Safaricom and Airtel Kenya shops in Nyeri town in the run-up to last week’s SIM card registration deadline have disappeared.
The Government through the Communication Authority of Kenya (CAK) had threatened to switch off millions of unregistered SIM cards by October 15.
Kenyans had been advised to ensure they registered their lines by then or risk having their lines deactivated.
But the directive has been set aside and the exercise extended for another 60 days to ensure those who had not done so have their lines activated.
Maybe due to the amnesty, there was little activity at the Safaricom and Airtel shops in Nyeri town as compared with the days prior to the deadline.
When KNA visited the Safaricom center shop located at the Kimathi Way Branch in downtown Nyeri, less than 20 people could be seen queuing to get served.
Moreover, a number of those who had visited the call center had already had their lines registered and were only coming to seek other services.
“I registered my SIM card days before the expiry of the deadline and therefore I was not affected by the switch-off. Today I only come here to seek other personal services unrelated to the ongoing registration,” said Grace Muriga, a resident of Mweiga town.
Japhet Ndegwa on his part revealed that he operates two Safaricom lines which he managed to activate on time to avoid running the risk of having his line switched off.
He said he had only come to cross-check some data with the mobile phone service provider.
But the turnout was even worse at the Airtel Kenya shop located along Kamakwa road where less than 10 people could be seen seated in the waiting lounge.
Staff at the shop sat expectantly waiting for clients, a far cry from last week when people thronged the shop in order to beat the deadline.
But while some Kenyans were imploring CAK to have the extension for SIM card registration, some like Ephraim Nyongesa claim they did survive the switch-off despite having not gone for the activation exercise.
Nyongesa whom we found relaxing at the iconic Whispers Park however said he was going to take advantage of the grace period and have his line registered.
“I personally never registered my twin SIM card that operates on Airtel and Safaricom lines but what surprises me is that I was never switched off. I have been operating my two lines since October 15 when the deadline was due up to date without any challenge,” he told KNA.
According to an announcement by CAK Director General Ezra Chiloba, mobile phone operators have been asked to take additional steps to ensure 100 percent compliance within the added two months.
Those who will not have registered their lines by then will soon find their lines deactivated.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the 60 days is not an extension, but a period for the mobile operators to take certain actions including denial of service to prompt further compliance,” said Chiloba in a statement released on Monday, October 17.
“The services to be affected by this action include voice, SMS, data, and mobile banking services. The Authority will undertake a compliance audit to ascertain the level of compliance. Any Mobile Operator found non-compliant shall be liable to regulatory measures including a penalty of up to 0.5 percent of their Annual Gross Turnover,” said Chiloba.
The government on April 15 this year extended the deadline for updating SIM card registration for two months to give subscribers ample duration to comply.
The communication authority explained that telecommunication companies and regulator want to update customer details and information systems to phase out scammers and criminals using unregistered cards to engage in crime.
According to a report by CAK released on December 16, 2021, there were about 59 million mobile phone devices connected to mobile networks in the country for the quarter ending September 2021.
The report also showed that the number of mobile money subscriptions reduced by 0.2 percent to stand at 64.9 million, attributed to an increase in inactive SIM cards as a result of subscribers defaulting on mobile money loans.
“This is attributed to the increase in the number of mobile loan defaulters whose SIM cards remained inactive during the reference period,’’ notes the report.
During the same period, the total value of mobile money deposits stood at Sh1.1 trillion, while the value of person-to-person transfers stood at Sh1 trillion.
The report also shows that Safaricom commanded the largest market shares across mobile money, mobile data, and mobile broadband at 64.6 percent, 98.5 percent and 65 percent respectively.
Airtel came second with 26.4 percent, 0.8 percent and 27.9 percent across the three areas followed by Telkom Kenya, Finserve, and Jamii Telecom.
The number of cyber threat incidents detected by the Kenya National Computer Incident Response Team/Coordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC) in the period went up by 37 percent to 38.7 million, with 25,969 advisories issued.
By Samuel Maina and Rodah Ndirangu