Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

More Than 600,000 SIMs Deactivated in Kenya

Article Image
An initiative to gain more accurate insights into the mobile market in Kenya has led to the deactivation of hundreds of thousands of SIM cards. Since the regulator issued the directive in 2018, demanding that the country's mobile operators clean up their subscriber lists, Airtel has deactivated more than 580,000 SIM cards, while Telkom has deactivated more than 40,000.

In September 2018 the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) demanded that mobile operators should switch off all SIMs not properly registered "with immediate effect." A week after the directive was issued, Airtel reported it had disconnected 584,134 SIM cards, while Telkom had removed 14,373 from its database. The latest report by Business Daily noted that a further 26,112 cards on Telkom network have been deactivated since then, taking the total reported number of deactivated SIM cards in the country to 624,619.

Safaricom, Kenya's mobile market leader, has not disconnected any SIM cards. (See Mobile Still Growing in Kenya, But So Is Fraud.)

The directive was issued after the CA conducted an audit of the effectiveness of an earlier, similar executive order issued in May. The audit found that large numbers of SIM cards had been "unregistered, partly registered, improperly/un-procedurally registered, fraudulently registered" as well as registered against multiple owners. One of the key reasons for the failure to implement the order, according CA, was that operators were not able to control their reselling agents, who often ignored the proper registration process.

Back in 2009, Mwai Kibaki, the then Kenyan president, recognised the role mobile communication was playing in facilitating terrorist activities and demanded the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), telecom regulator at that time, to tighten the registration regulation. Since then Kenya has repeatedly ordered operators to deactivate SIM cards that had not been properly registered. In one of these cases, in 2013, Safaricom disconnected more than 1.2 million SIMs from its network. The updated Information and Communications Act now gives the executive orders legal backing, stating that "providing incorrect information is an offence that attracts a fine Ksh.100,000 or imprisonment for six (6) months or both."

It is understandable that operators are not the most active in disconnecting SIMs: They boost market share numbers, have cost money to activate and could still generate revenues. The only upside of switching off these SIMs seems to be a short-term, mathematical boost of ARPU (average revenue per user) values.

Kenya is not the only country that has actively pursued SIM-card clearing: In Nigeria, for example, MTN was fined US$5.2 billion by the regulator in 2015 for not disconnecting improperly-registered SIM cards fast enough (though the fine was eventually reduced to $1.7 billion). (See Making MTN Great Again.)

In a more recent case, five Vodacom employees in Tanzania were arrested on a range of charges, including "allowing third parties unauthorized use of network services." They were released after Vodacom settled with a payment equivalent to $2.3 million, reported Bloomberg.

Wei Shi, Site Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Visa shortlists fintech startups for accelerator program

Payments giant Visa has announced the 18 startups from sub-Saharan Africa that were shortlisted for the second cohort of its Africa Fintech Accelerator program.

Story

Leveraging agritech to build resilience against climate change

ICT analyst Francis Hook discusses agritech in Africa and how the agricultural sector is using technology to build resilience against the negative effects of climate change and to ensure food security.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.

Story

The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives

Story

Leveraging agritech to build resilience against climate change

By Francis Hook

ICT analyst Francis Hook discusses agritech in Africa and how the agricultural sector is using technology to build resilience against the negative effects of climate change and to ensure food security.

Story

Omdia View: March 2024

By Omdia Analysts

The failure of four out of the five submarine cables deployed on the western shore of Africa in March 2024 led to a massive Internet outage across several countries. The outage fueled demand for satellite broadband, with SpaceX's Starlink becoming increasingly popular. That and more 5G and streaming news in the latest Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up
Tag id test-002