As promised, ICT regulator the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) had directed telcos to switch off SIM cards that had not been registered – and that’s just what happened. This was done after the weekend, following the lapse of the October 15 deadline.
Kenyans also had an extended time to update their SIM details. The first deadline was supposed to go live back on April 15, but it was pushed to October after millions of Kenyans asked for it to be stretched for longer so they could comply with the directive.
Over the period, telcos developed systems and platforms to allow customers to submit their IDs for re-confirmation. You could also do the same thing via mobile money agents, or via official telco customer care shops.
However, up to last week, there were more than 12 million SIM cards that had not been appropriately registered. The likes of Telkom, which has since become a fully government-owned carrier, had 60 percent of their customers unregistered.
There was also a time when members of parliament asked the CA to delay the switch off further. The reason given was that some regions of the country are experiencing severe drought, and some of these people are also unable to access the right channels for them to register their SIM cards. Also, most of them now receive a stipend from the government via M-PESA to alleviate their financial constraints as they deal with the pangs of bad weather.
However, this plea was not implemented as telcos started switching off SIM cards over the past weekend. The move affected many people, including prominent members of the Kenya society who have since taken their grievances to social media.
Nonetheless, we have since been told that not all SIM cards have been deactivated for the affected parties. The reason for this partial switch-off has not been given, but we guess there were some underlying reasons to prompt the decision.
What to do
You can still register your SIM card if it was switched off. Telcos usually have 90 days to keep a number that is not in use. If that time elapses, it will recycle the number and release it to the market for sale.
Now, the best way to do this is to go to an M-PESA, Airtel Money, or T-Kash shop with your original credentials (ID). The agent will then take photos of the documents and registered the SIM card for you. If this is not the right course for you, you can always visit a customer care shop for the same exercise.
Afterward, you need to wait for less than 48 hours for your line to come back online.
To note, the portals are not the right way to go around this because you will need a one-time password, which you cannot receive because your SIM card is already off.
Faiba users, however, should not worry because their registration details are already in line with CA regulations.
For housekeeping reasons, this process is being done so that telcos and security agencies can tie a SIM card to a person. This is because some of them are used for illegal activities, including crimes such as fraud or kidnapping.