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‘Radical’ changes planned for Kenya’s SIM registration process


Kenya’s government plans to tighten SIM card registration regulations, following allegations that terrorists used unregistered lines to help carry out an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

Kenyan police have alleged that the Somali-based al Shabaab attackers used unregistered SIM cards to communicate during their devastating siege on the upmarket Nairobi shopping complex late last month.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage from the mall shows the attackers talking on their cellphones during the siege.

Subsequently, Kenyan government officials last week said that chief executives of mobile operators in the country could face arrest over the sale of unregistered lines.

But reports started flooding in late last week, though, of the country’s telecom firms cutting services to unregistered and even registered SIM cards, following government and regulatory pressures.

And now government plans to even further tighten the SIM card registration process in Kenya to make it difficult for users to purchase a SIM and get it activated without providing their personal details.

Plans are in place by government for a revised ‘framework’ for SIM card registration in the country, said Fred Matiang’i, cabinet secretary in Kenya’s ministry of information, communication and technology ( ICT) at an event this week.

“We are determined to alter SIM card registration in this country in a radical manner,” Matiang’i said.

“It is important for the country and I think as a government it is our responsibility to the people of Kenya,” he added.

Kenyan mobile subscribers last year rushed to register their SIM cards by a 31 December 2012 deadline set by the CCK. 

However, Kenyan technology expert Kennedy Kachwanya told ITWeb Africa last week that the country’s government now has a renewed focus on SIM registrations following the al Shabaab terror attack in Nairobi.

“There’s a lot of criticism from the public that the attack was not handled well,” Kachwanya told ITWeb Africa.

“So, in a way, the government want to show that at least they’re doing something.

“So, telcos are an easy target in one way or another,” he said.


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