There has been a lot of miscommunication in the past few weeks as Kenyan Telcos rush to beat the deadline to register SIM cards of their users. The Communication Authority of Kenya together with Telco heads from Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya took earlier today to clarify the SIM registration process ahead of this week’s deadline on April 15th.
Ezra Chiloba, the regulator’s Director-General shared that this was not a new regulation and that it had been in place since mid-2015 and that telcos were aware of the need to comply and register all subscribers and keep the record of all SIM Cards sold and records of registered subscribers.
The Authority called on the service providers to amend the records within seven days whenever there is a change to the particulars of a subscriber.
The Communication Authority has been enforcing the regulations and as part of their mandate, inspected 22 counties in 2021 following multiple cases of SIM card misuse and registration irregularities where SIM cards are sold without registration and customers were advised to register later.
In other cases, the SIM Cards are sold using another person’s ID card or proxy, or other documents like the NSSF cards and student IDs. SIM cards are sold without the presentation of an identification document & no verification is done.
The government body’s aim with the push for SIM card registration has been to ensure full compliance with the legal requirements of SIM Card registration and to protect consumers of telecommunication services.
CA wants to reduce cases of sim-boxing, financial fraud, kidnapping, terrorism and related crimes that prevail in situations of compromised SIM card registration processes.
The Authority clarified that this is a validation process and not a re-registering process. the exercise is aimed at addressing the documentation gaps that have become commonplace.
”We are committed to ensuring that the integrity of the registration details of all SIM card subscribers is maintained,” said Ezra Chiloba.
”Telecom operators and subscribers must cooperate to ensure full compliance with SIM card registration by the 15th April 2022 deadline. The Authority will provide further guidance depending on the outcome of the exercise,” he continued.
The Authority went ahead to clarify that the legal requirements from the subscriber are the photo of your ID, name and address. They don’t require another photo that has been pushed by Safaricom.
Mugo Kibati, Telkom Kenya CEO and Prasanta D Sarma, Airtel Kenya MD and CEO were also present during the briefing and shared that they only need a photo of your ID.
Nicholas Mulila, Chief Corporate Security Officer at Safaricom shared during the briefing that their additional requirement of taking people’s photos is part of their stringent moves to enhance the security of resources and customers’ data in their efforts to eliminate impersonification and MPESA fraud cases.
Ezra Chiloba added that this was something that would be required of all telcos in the near future and Safaricom’s extra effort was not in bad faith.
The telco heads shared that the ongoing SIM Card validation process is a free exercise that is being carried out by their agents.
Safaricom shared that you can visit their over 200,000 MPESA agents countrywide and 500 specific areas.
Airtel shared that you can visit their over 50,000 agents and 1300 official shops.
Prasanta D Sarma shared that they’re running offers once you’re done validating your SIM card documentation including voice and data bundles.
The Authority called on all the three telcos to streamline their *106# USSD code to offer a standardized interface when subscribers dial it to confirm their registration details. Safaricom is currently working on this to be ready before tomorrow.
Safaricom users including those in the diaspora can use their self-help portal to update their SIM card registration details.
the three telcos shared their level of compliance so far with Safaricom leading with 65% validation of its subscribers and Airtel coming second place at 52%. Telkom didn’t share these details.
On the issue of capping how many SIM cards you’re allowed to have, the Authority shared that early this month, a task force was gazetted to fast track this review process and will also include public participation.
The Authority shared that there was inadequate planning after the April 15th deadline was issued on 24th February and wanted to set the record straight with this afternoon’s media briefing.
The regulatory body shared that it wanted this exercise to be continuous throughout to make it easier to retain full documentation of subscriber numbers and details.
For minors, the Authority added that birth certificates of the children will be needed to register SIM cards of underage children to protect them.
Deactivated numbers will need to be reactivated at designated points of sale including official shops and authorized sellers the telcos partner up with. The AUthority adds that new SIM card registration will have to be carried out at these designated points of sale.
On the issue of why this exercise is being done during an electioneering period, the CA shared that the process has nothing to do with the elections and that they’ve had back and forth conversations with the telcos since last year regarding the misuse of SIM cards.
Mugo Kibati, Telkom Kenya CEO even shared that they jointly published ads with the Safaricom and Airtel in the dailies in August last year – pushing 2 ads a week calling for people to register their lines.
On the issue of FULIZA, Safaricom’s Nicholas shared that they’re seeking guidance from its partners on this particular issue with regards to if a line is deactivated and had borrowed an overdraft.
He went on to add that deactivated lines will be an insignificant financial loss as they’ll self-correct in a month.
It’s worth noting that the penalties are heavy for both the service provider and individuals. Operators will be fined Ksh 300,000 per violation(each unregistered user) and if you provide information that is not true, you could be fined up to 6 months in jail.
Safaricom shared that foreigners will have to register their passports for a line at their official shops and not MPESA agents. The same thing with Airtel sop that the passports are validated and if they’ve expired, they won’t be able to register for new lines.
It’s worth noting that idle lines will be recycled. To unlock your line, you’ll have to register afresh.
You can also claim the MPESA balances of a deceased relative. If unclaimed after two years, the funds will be transferred to the Unclaimed Financial Assets Authority (UFAA).