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Business of Tech

Kenya stands firm on SIM registration deadline

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The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has held firm on a deadline to cut off all unregistered SIM cards in the East African nation, with all non-compliant SIMs blocked at midnight on Saturday, October 15, 2022.

The SIM registration process was kicked of in February and the original deadline was April 15, but this was pushed back to October 15, 2022.

Those who had not registered their SIMs in time are now denied services relating to voice, SMS, data and mobile banking services like M-Pesa and other mobile money services.

Local media reported that over 10 million Kenyans had not registered their SIM cards less than 12 hours before the deadline.

On Friday, during a webinar, the CA's telecoms licensing and compliance assistant director Liston Kirui said that after the October 15 deadline subscribers whose lines have been deactivated will still have an opportunity to re-register.

"SIM-registration is a continuous process. Operators are not going to stop the exercise because of the 15th October deadline. We expect them to continue with the process," Kirui added.

Local media also reported long queues outside mobile operator's stores in Nairobi on Saturday as people rushed to try and register their SIMs before the midnight deadline.

Non-compliance consequences

In a statement on Monday, the CA said that over the registration period it has witnessed a major improvement in compliance levels from mobile operators.

"In the last eight months, we have seen Safaricom's compliance levels move from 52% to 93% while Airtel moved from 42% to 81.2%," the regulator said.

It added that Telkom Kenya's case "is still under review and more details shall be provided upon conclusion of the review".

The regulator said each operator is obliged to reach 100% compliance and telcos have been directed to take additional steps to ensure 100% compliance in the next 60 days.

This is not an extension, the CA said, but rather "a period for the mobile operators to take certain actions including denial of services to prompt further compliance".

Operators have also been warned that if they don't pass compliance audits in future they can be fined up to 0.5% of their annual gross turnover.

SIM registration regulations have been changing and modernizing in a number of African countries with similar registration drives by governments in Nigeria and Ghana to get SIMs linked to national ID cards.

Want to know more about telco financials, regulation and deals in Africa? Check out our dedicated Business of Tech content channel here on Connecting Africa.

Previous data from the CA showed that as of June 30, 2022, there were 59.7 million mobile devices connected to mobile networks with feature phones accounting for 32.9 million and smartphones for 26.8 million.

The penetration rates for feature phones and smartphones as a percentage of the total population were 66.6% and 54.3%, respectively, the authority said.

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*Top image source: The Communications Authority of Kenya website.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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