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Kenya mobile companies set to beat registration deadline

August 2, 2010 • Mobile and Telecoms, Top Stories

Zain Kenya is reporting 60 percent compliance

AS the deadline set by the government for mobile operators to register their subscribers’ SIM cards gets closer, mobile operators have employed new methods of beating the deadline set for the end of this week.

The streets of Nairobi are covered with erected tents by all four operators in a move to reach as many customers as possible before the deadline.

With the government maintaining that the deadline will not be extended, it’s now up to the operators to go closer to the customers as opposed to the normal trend where customers line up at official outlets and call centres.

So far, Safaricom has registered 11.5 million subscribers while Zain Kenya is reporting 60 percent compliance. Telkom Kenya and Yu said they had registered about 40 percent of the subscribers.

Despite the effort to beat the deadline, mobile operators have faced a lot of challenges with others saying the time given was too little and are suggesting that the government could have given a period of one year to effectively collect the data, while other operators complain of lack of awareness especially to the rural folks.
“The major challenge has been the one-month deadline issued by the government which has indicated it will not extend the exercise beyond July 30.
Nobody can capture all that data in six months you would need close to two years to do all that,” Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein.

Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph said it remains to be seen whether the government would issue an extension, but urged subscribers to comply with the set date because there is very little chance that the government will extend the deadline.

“Kenyans are a peculiar lot; they will just wait for the last day and rush to have their lines registered. We obviously hope the government extends the deadline but we will just have to wait and see,” Mr Joseph said.

Zain Kenya Managing director Rene Meza believes the major challenge remains in the rural areas where awareness of the SIM registration exercise is still low.

This has seen the operator carry out a massive awareness campaign through targeted messages to subscribers and road shows with mobile registration units.

During the ongoing exercise, subscribers are required to furnish operators with their postal and physical addresses, date of birth and alternative telephone numbers, as well as their identity card numbers.

Postpaid customers as well as mobile money transfer users need not register as their operators have already captured their data.

The decision to have mobile phone users registered came after a directive issued by president Mwai Kibaki at the height of mobile phone related crimes.


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