The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) has condemned a decision by the government to prosecute unregistered SIM card holders, saying the focus should be on the network providers switching them off.
According to the consumer lobby group, the decision to jail consumers for a period of three years or fine them KSh300,000 (US$3,500) as indicated by the Information and Communications Ministry permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo is unnecessary.
“People have not taken this law seriously with respect to the registration. We are hoping that any mobile operator that has disconnected those who have not registered, should actually do it with immediate effect,” Ndemo told a press briefing on Wednesday.
But COFEK is disappointed that the network providers have shown little effort to register customers, with the initiative left to SIM card holders.
COFEK secretary general Sam Mutoro said that although the purpose of registration was to obtain users’ details, many people had registered with identification cards not belonging to them, making the process unreliable.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has warned that users will lose the use of their lines if they remain unregistered for over 90 days after the switchoff.
This latest clash between the ministry and COFEK comes days ahead of a hearing on the switchoff of analogue television sets, over which the lobby group has accused CCK of having no legal, social or economic justification for the hurried switchoff.
The case is set for hearing next week Friday, where the court will decide whether it will maintain an order barring the CCK from switching off analogue transmission in Nairobi.
Tanzania has already announced a similar switch off in Dar es Salaam, set for January 31, after carrying out sensitisation campaigns since August last year.