Kenya’s CCK extends SIM card registration… again

Telecoms

Mobile phone users who failed to register their SIM cards by the Wednesday deadline will not be disconnected from their network until a legislation to back the action is enacted. The news came as the regulator granted operators up to the end of the month to file their subscriber listing.

Information permanent secretary Bitange Ndemo said amendments needed to the laws were awaiting cabinet approval before being tabled in Parliament, a process that could end next year.

The delay puts the government’s plans to safeguard the public against widespread threats posed by terrorists, drug traffickers, money launderers, extortionists, fraudsters, hate messages and inciters in jeopardy, as criminals get a reprieve to carry on with their activities. The registration process had spelt trouble for operators fearing consumers who own multiple lines would be reluctant to endure several registration exercises

The directive pushed operators to mount spirited registration campaigns across the country with Zain setting up registration centres around high-traffic areas, including market centres, schools, health centres and churches to complement its existing network of Zain shops and Zap Agents.

Safaricom resorted to sending SMSs asking subscribers to send free additional details to complete their registration.

Essar’s Yu, entered into a partnership with Co-operative and I&M banks to register customers at their branches as well as at G4S centres, in a bid to have all its subscribers brought on board.

Operators say they still have two weeks to compile the latest statistics, reverting attention to the government as it seeks a legal framework before the end of the month.
“The exercise is going on well and data is currently being compiled and will be submitted to CCK on of September 30, 2010.

The government has already extended the registration exercise twice, after the first was snubbed by a huge chunk of subscribers. Before the deadline was extended, 12.42 million mobile subscribers had registered, representing 61.6 per cent of the total 20.8 million mobile phone users in Kenya.

The latest preliminary results from operators indicate that Safaricom had registered 13.8 million subscribers out of its client base of 16.24 million (85 per cent), while Zain with 1.96 million registered out of its 2.8 million subscribers (70 per cent).

Essar said it had registered over 600,000, representing 40 per cent of its total subscriber base of 1.5 million, while Telkom Kenya had 386,000 out of a subscriber base of 552,294, representing a 70 per cent.

Attention is now shifting to the number portability exercise slated to take off before the end of the year. Analysts say it will ensure that there is real competition and customers will benefit greatly from improved services from operators since preference for a selected service provider will be based on the quality and reliability of the network, customer service and innovation.