Kenya’s 30 July SIM card registration deadline may be rendered meaningless by a lack of legislation giving the government the authority to punish noncommittal mobile operators. According to Business Daily, two crucial bills – the Freedom of Information Act and the Data Protection Act – both of which will give the government the requisite legal backing to penalise unregistered subscribers – are still awaiting cabinet approval. As things stand, mobile phone users who are unwilling to sign up before the end of July will be able to continue to use their SIM cards indefinitely. Even if the bills are approved before the end of the month, they will still need to be debated by MPs, who are on recess for the next month.
Mobile phone operators are believed to be awaiting further direction from the State as the last few days of the month-long registration process. Safaricom claims that 70% of its 15.79 million users have registered, whilst the figure for Zain, Telkom Kenya and Essar is reportedly much lower. Despite only registering 6% of its subscribers, Zain CEO Rene Meza said that he is ‘optimistic that the exercise will succeed’.