Kenyan Telcom Regulator to Go for Phone Licences in SIM War

Posted By Techjaja Staff (Written )

After the west gate attacks, the Kenyan Government doesn’t want to take any chances anymore. Now the mobile phone operators risk losing their licenses if they fail to comply with the law that requires them to register all active SIM cards.
Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director General Francis Wangusi says revoking licenses of mobile phone operators will be the last resort if they fail to comply with the law.

Wangusi also says consumers using un-registered SIM cards risk a fine of up to Sh300,000 and/or five years imprisonment. He says that the CCK has no mechanism of switching off the unregistered SIM cards. “It’s only the mobile phone operators who can switch off the unregistered active SIM cards, and we will continue to apply pressure on them to adhere to the law,” he said.

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He says CCK research indicates that more than 600,000 active SIM cards are not registered. Wangusi was speaking on Wednesday at the World Post Day celebrations in Nairobi. On Tuesday, chief executives of mobile phone companies insisted that they are in full compliance with the law that requires them to register all active SIM cards.

The CEOs denied claims that there are active SIM cards that are unregistered on their networks. Speaking on behalf of the four mobile operators, Safaricom Corporate and Regulatory Affairs Director Nzioka Waita said the firms had gone beyond what is required by local laws in adhering to international standards of systems security requirements.

Waita said the operators have separately come up with stringent SIM registration guidelines that according to them have reduced the cases of criminal activity that thrived through unregistered SIM cards. He said the mobile operators are working together with the regulators to continue to tighten any gaps that might be exploited.

The operators claimed that since the publication of the SIM registration regulations in January of 2013, they maintain and update a registered subscriber base of over 30 million phone users. On Monday Cabinet Secretary for Information and Technology, Fred Matiang’i said unregistered SIM cards had been used to undertake criminal activities,
pointing out that CEO’s of the four mobile companies would be held responsible over the sale of the unregistered SIM cards and those found guilty arrested.

Matiang’i instructed the CCK to ensure all SIM cards that are not registered are switched off in the next 48 hours. The CEO’s on Tuesday recorded statements with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) maintaining that all active SIM cards are registered.