NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 23 – The country\’s four mobile phone operators say there is substantial compliance with the ongoing SIM registration exercise, with only seven days to the expiry of the deadline.
Safaricom has so far registered 11.1 million subscribers while Zain Kenya is reporting 60 percent compliance. Telkom Kenya and Yu said they had registered about 40 percent of their subscribers.
The major challenge for operators has been the one-month deadline issued by the government which has indicated it will not extend the exercise beyond July 30.
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.
"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.
Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein is of the opinion that it would take more than one year to effectively capture the data of mobile phone subscribers.
"Nobody can capture all that data in six months you would need close to two years to do all that," Mr Ghossein said when the exercise was launched earlier in the month.
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.
Minors will have to be accompanied by an adult who will register as the owner of the card and the minor as the user. Once of age, the young adult will be at liberty to change the registration details of their SIM card.
Postpaid customers as well as mobile money transfer users need not register as their operators have already captured their data.
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.
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.
Kidnappers have been using mobile phones to demand ransoms from relatives of their hostages while others have been using them to spread hate messages as well as intimidate others.
SIM registration is expected to reduce such criminal activity.