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Kenya switch off underway

Over half a million Kenyan phone users are reported to have had their services cut off so far.

Kenya’s telecoms operators started  disconnecting services to unverified handsets today  in line with the government’s programme to remove counterfeit handsets from circulation in Kenya. Phone users were given until midnight last night to check their phones’ EMEI numbers. Those that were not verified and registered will be disconnected from services from today. The CCK has estimated that up to 3 million devices in use in Kenya were counterfeit.

Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore reports that the telco has switched off services to 547,000 unregistered handsets so far. Other reports indicate that Essar (Yu) has switched off 45,000 and Telkom Kenya has cut services to 72,000.

The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) says all four operators have undertaken to switch off unregistered and counterfeit phones. CCK Director General Francis Wangusi said last week that adequate public awareness campaigns had been carried out and that there would be no further extension of the deadline.

Kenya’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Dr. Bitange Ndemo, said earlier that it was necessary for the government to ensure that all mobile phones are genuine to safeguard the health of consumers and also to promote confidence in mobile innovations.

“In this era of mobile banking, use of counterfeit devices, which are manufactured without due consideration to the recognized security standards, may expose our mobile money systems as well as the wider banking and financial system to unnecessary risks.  The Government cannot allow this to happen and thus  our decision to have all unregistered SIM cards and counterfeit handset mobile phones phased out by 30th September 2012,” said Dr. Ndemo.

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