Despite multiple threats of SIM card deactivation of unregistered Kenyan mobile subscribers and prison sentences, millions of unregistered users are still able to continue as before as the operators struggle to keep up.
Although some SIM cut offs have been reported by operators, Safaricom, the country’s largest network provider, said the last minute rush for registration has been difficult to deal with.
“We have been doing our best to update the electronic records after the last minute rush that saw a huge number of customers register their SIMs between the 31st of December 2012 and yesterday. We are refining the switch off process and it will continue into the weekend and those affected by the blocking will be unable to make calls or utilise any of our services until their SIM cards are registered,” said Bob Collymore, Chief Executive at Safaricom, said on its website.
Safaricom has deactivated 800,000 SIM cards up to date. Being the leading communications network provider, they host up to 80 percent of the nation’s mobile operations.
Telkom Orange has a count of 100,000 disabled cards out of 1.27 million unregistered subscribers on their side.
More than 6.3 million unregistered SIM cards are still working and connected to services.
The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) criticised threats made by the government to fine and jail any unregistered SIM card holders and said the emphasis should be on the operators to complete the process.
HumanIPO reported last week on the lack of authority that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has in comparison with the government.
As the numbers clearly show, the initial deadline of 31st December 2012 was not as effective as was hoped for.
Bitange Ndemo, Permanant Secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, has revealed how disappointed he is about the slow progression.
However, the bulk of still unregistered cards are believed to be the consequences of a larger problem, namely the absence of identification documents (IDs) among Kenyans.