NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – President Mwai Kibaki has directed the Ministry of Information and Communication to ensure that all mobile telephone subscribers are registered before the end of the year.
The President expressed concern that the current increase in crime was being perpetuated through mobile telephony due to the fact that owners of mobile handsets and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards were not registered.
“To guard against these tendencies, I am directing the Ministry of Information and Communication to put in place within six months from now, an elaborate databank that will ensure all mobile telephone subscribers are registered,” he said.
The police have in the past raised concerns on the lack of control in the activation and subsequent use of a mobile phone in Kenya.
“In other parts of the world, every mobile phone is associated with an owner and his particulars must be held by mobile phone service providers. It is this failure that criminals are taking advantage of to harass people,” said Police Spokesman Eric Kiraithe.
Police have been urging the government to pass a law giving them and other security agencies access to details of phone ownership or usage when investigating crime.
“Lack of SIM registration is mainly to blame for a series of abductions across the country,” Mr Kiraithe said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka during a gala dinner to commemorate the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) 10th anniversary and an ICT industry Expo at the Carnivore on Monday, President Kibaki said the Government was committed to ensuring that all Kenyans have access to ICT services.
He said the Government will this year spend Sh1.3 billion in purchasing mobile computer laboratories for each constituency for use by secondary schools and another Sh15 billion to support the purchase of lap tops.
The President said such projects will ensure that youths in the rural areas were well equipped with key ICT skills to enable them participate effectively in the unfolding digital economy.
To redress the rural/urban divide in access to ICT services, the President said the Government has amended the law to facilitate the creation of Universal Service Fund to finance the deployment of communication services in un-served areas of the country.
He said that in the 2009/10 financial year, the Government has given numerous incentives to the ICT sub-sector by lowering taxes and giving rebates on key capital intensive investment areas and asked the industry to take advantage of the situation.
President Kibaki said the Government recognises the telecommunication sector as a key player in the emerging digital economy, noting that the future of the world in the highly digitalised global village was entirely dependent on the extent to which people embraced ICT innovations.
“The ICT era has brought with it an unprecedented expansion of the democratic space and a tendency and yearning everywhere for free enterprise and entrepreneurship,” President Kibaki said.
He said in the current situation of innovation and free enterprise, regulation was important to maintain order and avoid misuse of technology.
The President said the Government has identified ICT as a key pillar of Vision 2030 where the Business Outsourcing Process sub-sector has been singled out as the next frontier of growth and employment creation for the youth.
“To ensure that this becomes a reality, the Government has facilitated the construction of high speed international fibre-optic infrastructure to connect the country to the international network,” he said, adding that the arrival of the fibre optic cable in Kenya was expected to revolutionise communications in the country and the region.
President Kibaki further called for enhanced collaboration between the Government and the private sector in ensuring that the underserved areas which presented the next business frontier were reached.