Kenya mobile phone cheats to pay heavy penalties

By Semaj Itosno, Nairobi, Kenya

Kenya plans to tame rogue mobile subscribers and operators through stiffer penalties in a new set of laws to be published this week.

The fines are included in the Kenya Information and Communications  (Registration of subscribers of Telecommunications Services) Regulations, 2014, which will be promulgated by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK).

All subscribers will be required to register with their mobile operators or risk a fine of sh100,000 or a six-month jail term.

All stakeholders in the mobile telephony sector are targeted in the regulations that set stiff cash penalties for mobile phone subscribers, agents and operators.

Agents and operators who contravene the regulations will be fined sh500,000 (or one year jail tem) and sh5million respectively.

According to previous regulations  anyone who breached the law was slapped with a blanket penalty of sh300,000 or a jail term not exceeding three years, or both.

To register, all a phone user needs to do is visit any of his mobile service provider operator shop, dealer or agent carrying official identification documents

All subscribers are required to register using an original and copy of national identity card, or passport, millitary or alien card.

After gazettement, unregistered subscribers will be allowed 30 days to comply or have their SIM cards deregistered. The database of the deactivated lines will be retained for two years, according to the regulations.

Kenya's mobile operators met on Tuesday and embraced the new rules aimed at fighting mobile-phone assisted crimes.

CAK Director General Francis Wangusi said he would sign the regulations this week, after which they will be gazetted into law.

SIM card registration is important, as it will help reduce SIM related crimes, which include hate messages, kidnappings, fraud in mobile money and many others.

Those who have registered on mobile money transfer services like M-PESA Yu cash and Airtel Money and have not updated their physical address, postal address and alternative number will also need to do so.

The operators will be required to verify and maintain a physical and electronic database of the registered subscribers. Operators are also required to notify unregistered subscribers and suspend them for 90 days before switching them off if they do not comply.

According to October 2013 industry  statistics by CCK, now CAK, Kenya has close to 30 million registered SIM cards.


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