Northern Corridor looks to harmonised SIM reg frameworks

The Northern Corridor Integration Projects Partner (NCIP) states of Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan and Uganda, are meeting in Nairobi to consider their existing SIM card registration regulations and the harmonization of regulations across the region.

The two-day conference opened yesterday with an address by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, Joseph Tiampati, and CA Director General Francis Wangusi.

Wangusi noted that SIM card registration has been primarily necessitated by the need to ensure that ICT networks, particularly mobile telecommunications services, are secured from misuse for criminal activities – a growing concern in East Africa.

He said: “Kenya was one of the first countries in the region to initiate SIM card registration. However, initial efforts towards encouraging SIM card registration were undertaken without a supportive legal framework, which meant that the local mobile operators could not deactivate unregistered SIM cards on their networks. As a result, public goodwill towards the registration process soon dissipated as subscribers realized that registration of SIM cards was not supported by statute. To address this challenge, the government in December 2012 promulgated regulations on registration of subscribers of telecommunications services. These regulations played a key role in institutionalizing SIM card registration in our country.”

He added: “Kenya’s experience with SIM card registration has clearly showed that collaboration with neighbouring countries is key in securing mobile networks from misuse by criminals. I say this because to date, criminal elements in our country procure unregistered SIM cards from neighbouring countries, and use them for criminal activities.  It is imperative that we put in place concerted efforts to address existing gaps, including tightening the border points to limit entry of counterfeit phones, that have become popular with criminal gangs.”

PS Tiampati said: “It is only when we harmonise the various frameworks that we can effectively curb cases of fraud that are likely to arise with the increased regional communication. With effective SIM card registration the region, it will be easy to track criminals who use mobile phones to commit crime across the region.

As we move into the next level of regional integration that is looking at incorporating regional integration of mobile payment services, aharmonized framework will come in handy particularly is tackling cases of fraud that we are likely to experience even as we strive to collectively realise financial inclusion for our citizens.”

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