A week ago, Kenya’s ICT watchdog the Communications Authority released some numbers based on a study it had performed on registered SIM cards. The data, which was read by The Authority’s Director General Mr Francis Wangusi indicated that telcos had failed to manage their agents who are tasked with the sale and registration of SIM cards. The data also revealed that agents inflate the price of SIM cards, in addition to not verifying the documents used for registration.
For instance, some SIM cards were registered several times using different sets of documents. Others were linked to inconsistencies and careless errors such as incomplete passport numbers, the later of which could be rectified in the coming days if the Ministry of Interior will allow correspondence between telcos and its passport database.
It also emerged that the hawking of SIM cards is rampant. The CA warns that culprits may be fined up to half a million Kenyan shillings if caught in the streets selling SIM cards without a permit.
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These inconsistencies have been linked to fraud and criminal cases where perpetrators use irregularly registered SIM cards to commit a crime. Thus, the CA directed mobile operators to switch off SIM cards registered fraudulently in a week based on its troubling forensic audit.
Thousands of these communication chips have been axed from the networks as of late last week. Airtel reported the highest number of culprits as it shut off 584,134 SIM cards. Telkom Kenya deactivated 14,373 subscribers from its network.
How about Safaricom, you ask. Well, the telco says that all its customers are registered according to the stipulated laws, so it did not close any SIM from its network.
A fact-checking audit will be performed in the next couple of weeks to ascertain compliance to its directive.