Kenya’s telecommunication regulator announced Monday it would switch off six million mobile phone users for failing to register within the stipulated time.
It however left a three-month window for the de-registered users to reclaim their lines before a permanent deactivation.
Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) Director of Consumer and Public Affairs Mutua Muthisi said at least 20% of all mobile phone users were being de-listed after failing to register their mobile phone lines, in an effort to stop the use of unregistered mobile phone lines.
“The Commission has no intention, whatsoever, of extending the deadline beyond 31 December 2012 midnight. All unregistered SIM cards shall therefore be suspended from service without fail,” Muthusi told a news conference.
“Going forward, owners of SIM cards suspended from service will have only 90 days within which to register their lines starting from,” he added.
Kenya’s rapidly growing mobile telephony sector has hit 30 million users, out of which only 24 million users managed to register.
Airtel, which had 3.8 million registered users, is set to lose 0.822 million users, while the market leader, Safaricom, which has registered 16.7 million users, will lose nearly 3 million users.
Orange, with 3.3 million mobile users, is set to lose 1.2 million users while Essar, which trades as Yu mobile, will lose 1.13 million.
The Kenyan President ordered the registration of all mobile phones in July 2009, but the move was immediately opposed by telecom firms which said the government had no such powers in law.
CCK officials said the President’s directive for SIM cards registration was inspired by the need to stem the rising incidences of mobile phone perpetrated crimes, including kidnapping, extortion, hate speech, money laundering and drug trafficking.