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Unregistered SIM blocking: Kenyans get another 60 days, Ghanaians have till end of October

Unregistered SIM blocking: Kenyans get another 60 days, Ghanaians have till end of October

Two countries enforcing SIM blocks for those not yet registered for digital identity have extended their deadlines, and both deny they are extensions. Telcos in Kenya were given 60 days to ensure all subscribers biometrically register their SIMS against their identities and to otherwise carry out deactivation, effectively an extension on top of the six-month extension begun in April. In Ghana, the end of October is when all unregistered or partially registered SIMS will be blocked.

Kenya: ‘not an extension’

“For the avoidance of doubt, the 60 days is not an extension but a period for the mobile operators to take certain actions including denial of service to prompt further compliance,” reads a statement from the Communications Authority of Kenya, reports The Nation.

“These steps include graduated denial of service to SIM card holders not duly registered and eventual deactivation.”

The block will cover voice, SMS and data. It was supposed to have come into effect on 15 October when the digital ID registration deadline ended. A surge in registrations in October seems to have contributed to the decision to (not) extend the deadline: “Taking into account the improved level of performance so far, operators are directed to take additional steps to ensure 100 per cent compliance in the next 60 days,” said the CA statement.

Registration rates have reached 93 percent of Safaricom’s 42.5 million subscribers, 81 percent of Airtel Kenya’s 17 million and an unknown percentage so far for Telkom Kenya’s 3.4 million subscribers. The most recent figure seems to be 36 percent (1.24 million).

Over 40 million SIMs have been registered nationwide, reports Capital News, bringing levels up to 80 percent of subscriptions.

Communications Authority Director-General Ezra Chiloba said that more than 264,000 mobile phone users were blocked between February and June for failing to register their SIM cards, reports The Nation, and hinted the number could be far higher.

Two hundred-thousand SIMs have been deregistered after incorrect information was used in their registration.

Ghana: fully link to Ghana Card by end of October

“All SIM cards that have been linked to Ghana Cards, but have not completed their second stage registration will be blocked from the end of October,” according to a statement from Ghana’s Ministry of Communications on 17 October, the same day as the Kenyan statement, reports AfricaNews.

This is also not an extension, but a temporary measure, despite the previous deadline for registration being 30 September (which followed 31 July, 31 March 2022). A measure to block unregistered SIMs for two days a week was dropped after a week in September.

As of 4 October, around 19 million SIM cards were fully registered, or 45 percent of cards issued between 1 October 2021 and 4 October 2022. This is of 29 million which had been linked to Ghana Cards, the national ID card, or 62 percent of SIMs issued over the last year.

After the Ghana Card link, subscribers must undergo biometric capture to complete their SIM registration. The Ministry of Communications also urged anyone who had registered more than 10 SIMs to unregister any unwanted ones or face being blocked.

SIM registration is promoted by ID4Africa and others in the identity for development community as a way to encourage digital identity scheme registration.

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