Communications Authority of Kenya has directed Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to switch off all unregistered SIM cards on their networks with immediate effect.
The move follows a forensic audit by the Authority that unearthed loopholes in adherence to SIM card registration laws by mobile network operators.
The SIM cards to be affected are those that are unregistered, partly registered, improperly/un-procedurally registered, fraudulently registered, and those with registered against multiple owners.
‘‘The exercise sought to determine whether all the subscribers were properly registered in accordance with the law as well as the completeness and accuracy of the registration data,’’ said CA Director General Francis Wangusi in a statement.
The audit showed that the data in the subscriber databases of the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) was incomplete and inaccurate, pointing to the need for a verification system to help enhance the authenticity of the data.
The findings are contrary to returns from the mobile operators, which showed they had fully complied with the SIM card registration obligations.
The anomalies were more pronounced in cases where subscribers registered using passports bore numbers whose length was not in tandem with standards of Kenyan passports.
The market surveillance found hawking of SIM cards was rampant in parts of the country. Many cases of agents not requesting for identification documents at the point of purchase of the SIM cards were also discovered.
Additionally, it was noted that little or no verification was done on identities of SIM card buyers vis a vis the documents presented. In some cases, the agents were also over-charging buyers for registration.
The forensic audit also discovered weak oversight of agents by mobile operators, with the focus being directed at making sales without respect to adherence to SIM card regulations.
‘‘This means that agents are merely concerned with selling as many SIM cards as possible to earn their commission. This is a dangerous trend that jeopardizes the security of citizens in the country and must therefore stop,’’ added Wangusi.
BY SAMUEL NABWIISO