Chiloba Sets Cash Penalty For Kenyans Who Won't Register SIM Cards

Communications Authority's Director General  Ezra Chiloba in his office on October 4, 2021.
Communications Authority's Director General Ezra Chiloba in his office on October 4, 2021.
Courtesy CA

The Communications Authority (CA) has set a cash penalty for Kenyans who will not register their SIM cards with their respective telecommunication service providers by April 15.

Defending the move to impose a fine on subscribers who fail to register their SIM cards, CA Director General of Ezra Chiloba argued that registration is aimed at combating cybercrime and fraud in the digital space.

In the latest move, the authority maintains that the regulations will be implemented and those in possession of unregistered SIM cards would face fines of up to Ksh300,000 or serve a jail term of six months or both.

File image of a man on his phone
File image of a man on his phone

"There would be no extension so those still dragging their feet should wake up to the reality and register with their respective telecom service providers or face permanent deactivation," Chiloba stated.

The former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Officer further instructed network operators to speed up the data cleanup exercise and deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.

SIM cards that have been inaccurately registered will also be targeted in the cleanup exercise.

"We want before the end of April all the networks to be cleaned up by deactivating all unregistered and improperly registered SIM cards from the networks," Chiloba remarked.

Defending the enforcement of fresh registration, Chiloba noted it will help join other countries that have proper data systems and promote efforts to avert cases of online crime that have been on the rise.

"It means that criminals and even terrorists can use unregistered SIM cards for anonymity and avoiding detection by the authorities," he explained.

In the registration exercise, mobile subscribers are expected to present their National Identification details and a photo, which is taken during the exercise that takes less than five minutes.

The directive will also affect users with multiple SIM cards with no proper registration. This is in line with the latest push to enforce vigorous regulations by capturing biometric data of millions of subscribers.

Those who are likely to be affected by the mass switch include those who registered their SIM cards between 2002 and 2015.

"The regulations state that proper SIM card registration includes a photo ID, and since 2017 we have asked mobile service providers to comply, but they have not," CA stated.

A 2018 image of Kenyan youth perusing a phone.
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