By Angela Mutayi.
The dawn of the 15th of October was not that of a new day alone but also a new phase for Kenyan communication. This is after thousands of unregistered Kenyan SIM cards were suspended by their various telecommunication companies following the set deadline by the Communications Authority of Kenya. Communications had been made to Kenyans from earlier this year to register their SIM cards under their national identity cards by 15th of April to avoid suspension. This deadline was extended to 15th of October, following a low turnout after which unregistered SIM card owners have had their SIM cards suspended. Unregistered Safaricom SIM holders suffer the biggest blow because they are now unable to access MPESA, a popular money transfer means as well as communicate via text messages or purchase browsing bundles. Affected clients have since been advised to visit their nearest Safaricom outlets and have their SIM cards registered.
The move by the Communications Authority of Kenya to have all Kenyan SIM owners register their cards is to lock out SIM-based fraudsters. Fraud has been a rising issue in Kenya where many are extorted of money via text messages or calls. The perpetrator often presents opportunities such as fake rewards and asks for money in return to cater for whatever the situation demands. Some have mastered the art of configuring money transfer messages similar to MPESA ones and dishing them out to unaware individuals as accidental transfers after which they ask for reversals and end up scamming the individuals. There have been many unprecedented forms of extortion on the rise which have pushed the hand of CA to act in this manner. I believe that in so doing, telecommunication companies have information on their users, and in case of any scam, relevant action can be taken. This move will also ward off attempts by scammers because they often use unregistered or stolen SIM cards in their work.
Subsequently, there has been a rather low turnout to register lines in the wake of the call. The move to extend SIM card registration from 15th April to 15th October 2022 was after over 14 million Kenyans had failed to register their cards before the initial deadline. My take on all this is that most Kenyans have been ignorant of the matter. Many lack information on the importance of registration or simply what it entails. Some are simply oblivious to the situation at hand, and others do not see the need to provide their personal information to the telecommunication companies again. I mean, why register again when they already have my details right? A recent conversation with a group of friends sparked up the topic, and one asked why they simply could not lift the same details he had provided when he acquired the card and use them for the registration. My take is to countercheck that indeed the holder of this SIM card is the same one on the details you will provide.
Communication is one domain that continues to develop with technology. Artificial Intelligence is now taking over communication and as a developing nation, these global trends bound to catch up with us. The only issue is that it has caught up with others more than the rest, and some are still in the dark. SIM card registration is only a progressive move in a much bigger and developing telecommunications system. I believe that the future is bright, and in all the negativity and darkness the web sometimes holds, there is a light, there is security and protection against them and for Kenya, and the Communications Authority of Kenya is on the lookout for us.