12 million Kenyan SIMs may go offline

The Kenyan government has ordered telecom operators to shut down unregistered SIM cards in order to restrain criminal activity in the region.

Mwai Kibaki, Kenya's President (image source: file photo)

The move aims to force all Kenyans to register their SIM cards. Kenya has about 25 million active mobile numbers and only 12.4 million have registered thus far.

The deadline to register all mobile numbers is 1 October 2011.

Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki said the new laws were now in place to protect mobile service providers from legal suits for blocking SIM cards” and he has directed the Ministry of Information and Communication to ensure no unregistered numbers were in use.

“There is now a legal framework to protect service providers from unnecessary legal suits,” Kibaki said at the launch of Telkom Kenya’s 3G mobile network in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

Samuel Poghisio, Minister for Information and Communications said Kenya was moving towards a shared telecoms infrastructure platform and would repossess idle frequencies.

“We have had problems with business people who think that resources like spectrum and frequencies, are to be hoarded for their own individual benefit. The trend now is to share those resources and for us to use them more effectively,” he said in comments published by the ministry.

Janan Yussif