Confusion as Kenyans receive contradicting messages on SIM registration

Some Kenyans have complied with the directive while others are still hesitant

In Summary

• Some Kenyans have complied with the directive if the long queues at some telcos shops are anything to go by but some have maintained they will not register their SIM cards.

• Chiloba had said that the process is not re-registration or fresh registration exercise.

A mobile phone subscriber inserts a Sim card in a phone.
A mobile phone subscriber inserts a Sim card in a phone.
Image: FILE

Government regulations are seldom adhered to by majority of Kenyans.

The latest directive on the registration of SIM cards has been met with resistance, with many Kenyans questioning the motive as the April 15 deadline draws closer.

The Communications Authority of Kenya announced that all active SIM cards in the market should be registered, with CA Director General Ezra Chiloba asserting that the registration process is a normal occurrence in the country.

Some Kenyans complied with the directive as evidenced with long queues at telco shops.

Some, however, declined to register their SIM cards. They argued that they see no point in re-registering their SIM cards.

Marcus Mugambi says when he bought his SIM card, it was registered and a photo of him was taken to finalize the registration.

"I fully registered my SIM card and completed the whole process, but after dialing *106# to check my registration status, I received a message stating that my registration is not complete. I'm so confused right now," Mugambi said.

He pointed out that he wasn't the only Kenyan who is confused about the entire process.

"We just don't know why there's so much contradicting information and this has left us with more questions than answers," he added.

Mercy Makau, too, expressed her doubts about the process.

She claimed that she received contracting messages even after completing the registration process. 

The first message confirmed that she had been registered while the second one stated otherwise.

"Last week, I checked my registration details and I received a message clearly stating that my SIM card was fully registered. On Tuesday, I decided to just check again since some people were giving different accounts. This time around, the message I received stated that my sim card registration is now incomplete," Mercy explained.

A section of Kenyans have shared similar experiences online regarding the status of their SIM cards after registration.

Others raised concerns that some telcos, despite having their full ID details, are still asking them to register their SIM cards physically.

They are also concerned over why the registration process cannot be done online.

For Hillary, upon checking registration details, he found out that only one of his SIM cards is registered.

"I have a Safaricom and Airtel SIM card and after checking my registration status, registration of one of the SIM cards was incomplete," Hillary said.

"I didn't pay much attention to it until I heard other people talk about it. I'm in the dark about this whole process," he said.

In its defence, the Communications Authority said the process is not re-registration or fresh registration of SIM cards.

In his address last weekend, Chiloba explained that the process is not re-registration or fresh registration exercise.

"It is an opportunity for operators and their customers to validate respective details of registration. The exercise will address the documentation gaps that have become commonplace," he said.

The DG said that the requirement to update subscriber registration details is being done primarily to protect consumers of telecommunication services – you and me.

"Incidences of sim-boxing, financial fraud, kidnapping, terrorism and related crimes prevail in situations of compromised sim card registration processes. How can we win the war against such crimes if we cannot participate by ensuring that we have updated records?" he posed.

Chiloba said that upon inspection, the regulator found out that SIM cards are sold without registration and customers are advised to register later.

He said that some SIM cards are sold using other people's ID cards or documents while others are given for free using fictitious identification card numbers.

What is needed for the process

According to communication from one of the service providers, if a customer had previously had their photo taken when registering their SIM card/s and finds all their personal lines after dialing the *106# USSD code, they do not need to register the line/s again. 

If they find all your their personal lines after dialing the USSD code but had previously not had their photo taken, they need to visit any of their shops to update their details.

Thirdly, if a customer finds unknown numbers registered under their national ID after dialing the USSD code, they need to visit the respective telco's retail outlet and have the unknown numbers delinked from their identification documents. 

However, during his address, Chiloba said that subscribers do not need to submit photos of themselves during registration or verification exercise.

But those who have registered their lines say their photos were taken to complete the registration process.

One such Kenyan is Yvette Ouma.

"I registered my SIM card on Monday and I was asked for my ID and then a photo was taken. Since I only have one SIM card, the exercise took less than 10 minutes," Yvette said.

With the deadline just two days away, many Kenyans are still hesitant to adhere to the regulations whose aimed the CA says is aimed at curbing crime in the country.

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