, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 28 – Police Commissioner Mathew Iteere has criticised mobile service operators in the country, terming them the biggest hindrance in in the fight against crime through unregistered SIM cards.
Iteere complained that criminals continue to be able to purchase and use unregistered SIM cards despite a presidential directive for the operators to register and keep a database of all their subscribers.
“Since our (Kenya’s security forces) engagement in Somalia last year in October, we’ve had so many attacks and the link is one; the use of mobile phones, all of them unregistered. Why are you not joining us in the fight against crime, why do we have to put profits above the national interest?” Iteere challenged the operators.
“Last year we had a very big ceremony, where we gave deadlines for SIM cards registration, what has happened? We have seen a lot of resistance from the service providers; Why? Just because of profits, “he added.
However, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) Acting Director General Francis Wangusi defended the operators saying that this time round they have shown their cooperation as compared to a few months earlier.
They spoke during the launch of a three-months nationwide drive against counterfeit phone handsets to make subscribers compliant with Regulation 24 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Importation, Type Approval and Distribution of Communications Equipment) Regulations 2010 requiring all mobile phones to be type approved.
Contravention of this statute attracts a fine not exceeding Sh300, 000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or both.
Wangusi said all fake handsets will be switched off after September 30.
“To check whether your phone is counterfeit or not, simply dial *#06# and send the serial number that appears on your screen to 1555 and your mobile service provider will send you three free confirmation SMSs, “said Wangusi.
The Anti-counterfeit Authority’s Director General, Stephen Maloa called on the government to give the authority more capacity to deal with those selling the counterfeit handsets and other equipment.
“We recently managed to arrest two gentlemen who distribute these phones, and took them to court. But they were acquitted by a magistrate and we were then served by the court to release around 15,000 handsets, which were clearly counterfeit. As we speak now the same magistrate is about to issue a warrant of arrest to us for not releasing them,” complained Maloa.
According to industry statistics by CCK, close to three million (10 percent) mobile phones being used in the Kenyan market are counterfeit translating.