Kenya’s four mobile phone operators will be required to disconnect any subscribers that have not registered their SIM cards by 16 September, it has been announced. The ruling follows the conclusion of the national SIM card registration exercise, whose deadline expired on 31 August. Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo has confirmed that operators have been given 15 days to compile updated subscriber databases following the two-month exercise. Although disconnections are technically left to the operators’ own discretion, Dr Ndemo suggested that it is in their best interests to do so: ‘If I was to report that someone perpetrated a crime against me and the police went to the operator and find the number is not in their register, then the operator will be held accountable’.
According to the CCK, approximately 80% of subscribers have complied with the government directive. At 25 August market leader Safaricom had registered 84% of its subscribers, Zain Kenya 65%, and Telkom Kenya (Orange) 50%, whilst Essar Telecom reported the lowest rate for registration, with just 29% of subscribers submitting their details. Based on the subscriber figures in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, this means that around four million of Kenya’s 20 million mobile phone subscribers could find themselves disconnected later this month. Charles Njoroge, Director General of the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) said that all operators are obliged to inform subscribers before disconnecting them for non-registration.