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Kenyan mobile firms to block numbers

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 31 – Mobile Phone operators will be required to disconnect numbers that are not registered in their database by September 16.

This follows the conclusion of the SIM card registration exercise, whose deadline expired on Tuesday.

Information and Communication Permanent Secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo said on Tuesday that operators had been given the next 15 days to compile their databases following the two months exercise.

“If something bad happened to you and the police went to look for that number, the operator must know the person who has that number,” Dr Ndemo stressed.

The PS based the decision on section 23 of the Kenya Communications Act 2009 which in part reads: ‘the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) shall so far as is reasonably practicable ensure there are provided through out Kenya  such telecommunication services and in particular emergency, public payphone and directory information services as are reasonably necessary  to satisfy public demand thereof.’

In 2009, President Kibaki directed mobile phone operators to register their customers to enhance national security and reduce phone related crimes.

At that time, there were rising cases of kidnappings where criminal gangs have in the past asked for ransom money to be paid through mobile money transfer services.

While operators are at their own discretion to decide to disconnect lines that do not appear in their database, Dr Ndemo said it would be in their best interest to do so.

“If I was to report that someone perpetrated a crime against me and the police went to the operator and find the number is not in their register, then the operator will be held accountable,” he said.

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CCK Director General Charles Njoroge said operators were obligated to inform subscribers before disconnecting them for non registration until such a time they comply.

“After 15th there should be no complaints that my information has not been transmitted to the operator. After that, we expect that any number that will be in the system has an identity and if not must be disconnected until the individual complies,” Mr Njoroge said.

According to the ministry, 80 percent of subscribers have complied with the government directive.

By close of business last week, Safaricom had registered 13.4 million subscribers out of its 16 million strong subscribers marking 84 percent compliance.

Zain Kenya has announced 65 percent compliance with 1.39 million customers registered. Essar Telecom’s yu has registered 445,000 out of 1.5 million customers, while Telekom Kenya’s Orange has 250,000 out of 500,000 customers registered.

This numbers are however expected to have materially changed by the end of August 31 as more traffic was expected as subscribers try to beat the deadline set by the regulator.


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