In 2013, the Kenyan government issued a directive to all Telcos requiring that they register all SIM cards used in Kenya. The directive followed the enactment of the Kenya Information and Communication Act, to register and store the details of all their mobile subscribers. The four telcos at the time took to registration of the SIM cards and the same has continued whenever a subscribers buys a new SIM card.
In March, the government launched the Integrated Population Registration System (IPRS) set to serve as the single one stop shop for personal information and biometric for both locals and foreigners. The government further announced plans to have banks and telcos authenticate their customer data using the platform. Through the Central Bank of Kenya, the government issued strict guidelines to banks and telecommunication companies to confirm customers’ identity card numbers using the system before registering them. The directive sought to curb money laundering and financing of terrorist activities.
According to Business Daily, the government through the Communications Authority of Kenya plans to in the next 90 days block any unregistered sim Cards. The move follows the meeting of regulators in the East African states seeking to establish the legal and technical framework for harmonizing SIM card registration in the region. The East African nations see the regulations as a move that will fight criminal activities such as fraud, terrorism and money laundering. The new set of regulations will require the telcos to send notices to subscribers whose Sim cards are not registered telling them of their intent to block the sim cards. They also define the legal technicalities involved in SIM card deactivation that state unregistered SIM cards. The deactivation will also affect sim cards registered with false information. In Kenya, failing to comply with the law regarding the registration of Sim cards is punishable by law with fines of up to 5 million.