More than 1.2 million unregistered mobile lines have been switched off in line with the government’s bid to stop crimes aided via telecommunications such as extortion and hate speech.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) on Friday said the four local mobile telephony firms had switched off 1,280,840 unregistered lines, five days after the expiry of the December 31 deadline.
Safaricom leads the pack with 800,000 unregistered SIM cards already off-air. Yu and Orange suspended 290,000 and 120,010 unlisted lines from service, respectively. Airtel on the other hand has switched off 70,830 unregistered SIM cards.
“We are refining the switch off process and it will continue into the weekend and those affected by the blocking will be unable to make calls or utilise any of our services until their SIM cards are registered,” said Safaricom’s CEO Bob Collymore in a statement.
On Wednesday, Information and Communications permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said telcos would be penalised Sh300,000 for every unregistered active subscriber found within their networks.
CCK extended the deadline to Friday for the telcos to block all unregistered lines or be penalised. CCK director-general Francis Wangusi said the disconnection of unregistered SIM cards was progressing well despite the initial hitches.
He attributed delays in disconnection of the more than six million unregistered SIM cards to verification of registration data received from mobile line dealers and agents countrywide.
“The verification exercise is quite involving as the mobile operators have to ensure that no registered mobile line is suspended from service,” Mr Wangusi said.
He said the overriding aim of the registration exercise is to achieve total compliance. Mr Wangusi appealed to those who have not registered their lines to do so within the 90-day period before their SIM cards are permanently de-activated.
Safaricom says it has so far registered over 85 per cent of its subscribers. The telco has advised its unregistered subscribers to visit Safaricom shops and authorised dealer outlets to start the process of reinstatement.