ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr.Joe Mucheru (second right) during the opening ceremony of the 25th session of the East African Communications Organisation (EACO) Assemblies in Nairobi.He is with Cabinet Secretary for East African Community and Northern Corridor Develoment Mr.Peter Munya (right),Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku (second left) and CA Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi (left).Mr.Mucheru called on the East African countries to enforce SIM card registration to curb their misuse.

ICT Cabinet Secretary Mr. Joe Mucheru has called for tough measures on enforcement of SIM card registration within the East African Community (EAC) as part of efforts to promote safe use of ICT infrastructure within the region.

Mr.Mucheru said criminals are increasingly misusing ICT infrastructure, including unregistered SIM Cards to perpetrate crimes, including terrorism and kidnaps.

Speaking during the 25th East African Communications Organization (EACO) Assemblies in Nairobi, Mr.Mucheru said mobile network operators must strictly adhere to the SIM card registration to help law enforcement agencies within the region to track down criminals.

‘‘If some countries or mobile operators do not enforce SIM card registration to the letter, criminal elements shall continue misusing unregistered SIM cards from neighboring countries to perpetrate criminal activities across our borders,’’ said Mr.Mucheru.

Mr.Mucheru also decried the upsurge of misuse of mobile phone device across the region, given that counterfeit devices denied service in one country can still find their way in networks of neighbouring countries.

‘‘These devices, like unregistered SIM cards, are hard to track down in case of misuse for criminal purposes. EACO membership must therefore see how best to help governments deal with the menace of counterfeits. I am positive that EACO is up to the task,’’ he added.

Mr. Mucheru’s concerns come barely two weeks after the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) directed all mobile operators to deactivate all unregistered or partially unregistered SIM cards within their networks.

East African Community and Northern Corridor Development Cabinet Secretary Mr.Peter Munya who attended the event lauded ongoing efforts to harmonize regulatory and policies within the region.

‘‘Harmonization of ICT Policy and regulatory frameworks is indeed the way to go in positioning East Africa as a single investment market, and catalyzing the realization of our region’s ultimate goal of political and monetary integration,’’ said Mr.Munya.

Universal Postal Union Director General Amb.Bishar Hussein who attended the event challenged African governments to focus on revitalizing the postal sector to take advantage of emerging opportunities in electronic commerce (e-commerce). 

EACO was established foster the growth of ICTs, strengthen and promote cooperation in the development and provision of postal, telecommunications and broadcasting services in the East African Community.

CA chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku called on EACO member states to work closely towards harnessing the potential of ICTs in enhancing access to financial, communication, e-commerce and a host of other services.

In the same vein, CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi, who is also the chairman of EACO, said lack of an enforcement mechanism was hampering implementation EACO decisions at the local and regional level.

According to the EACO Executive Secretary Dr.Ali Simba, the organization is working towards becoming a specialized agency of the East African community (EAC) to enable it have greater impact in the region.

EACO Assemblies offer a unique opportunity for sharing of experiences and ideas on emerging technologies and how they impact ICT and policy within the EAC.

The Authority is hosting the five-day event, which brings together policy makers, legislators, regulators, operators and service providers in the ICT sector, academia and ICT consumers within EAC region.

Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o (left) formally inaugurating the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA)’s Nyanza Regional Office in Kisumu.Looking on is CA chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku (centre) and Director General Mr.Francis Wangusi (right).The regional office will will serve Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira, Kericho and Bomet counties as well as Kilgoris sub-county in Narok.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) has today opened its fourth regional office in Kisumu city.

The Nyanza Regional Office will be the focal point for the Authority’s operations in the region covering the greater Nyanza and South Rift counties.

Speaking at the event, Kisumu Governor H.E Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o said the presence of the Authority in the region will inspire confidence among investors and in turn spur growth of ICTs in the region.

‘‘With this new office I can confidently say that half of our challenges have already been solved since now we know where to seek solutions and redress,’’ said the Governor.

Kisumu County is already making strides that will position ICTs as key enablers of socio-economic progress. Plans are in place to establish an ICT park.

‘‘The County intends to establish an ICT Park that has been identified as a key investment project to be undertaken under Public Private Partnership (PPP),’’ added the Governor.

The County is also pushing for aprivate sector driven e-learning system in selected schools to complement the national government policy of rolling out one-laptop per child.

CA chairman Mr.Ngene Gituku said the expansion of the Authority’s reach would foster increased focus on ICTs in the region and boost Kenya’s quest as a digital economy. 

‘‘As we open CA’s fourth regional office, we are also confirming our commitment to continually reinforce inclusion, outreach and full participation of all in Kenya in the digital economy,’’ sad Mr. Gituku.

The Authority is currently implementing a number of projects across the country to enhance access to communications service by all. These projects, under the Universal

Service Fund (USF) are specific interventions meant to address gaps in access to ICTs in various parts of the country.

Currently, the Authority is connecting 896 secondary schools to high speed Internet. In Kisumu County, 21 secondary schools are beneficiaries of this project. CA is also deploying 2G voice services in 78 sub locations.

According to the CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi, with its footprints in the region, the CA will enhance its engagement with various stakeholders to fully harness the potential of ICTs.

‘‘I wish to reiterate the Authority’s commitment to ensuring access to quality ICT services by all and pledge our commitment to collaborate with our stakeholders in this region, to ensure that our citizens’ lives are transformed through ICTs, ’’ said Mr.Wangusi.

The Nyanza Regional office, based on the 2nd Floor of the Lake Basin Mall along the Kisumu-Kakamega road, will serve Kisumu, Siaya, Homabay, Kisii, Migori, Nyamira, Kericho and Bomet counties as well as Kilgoris sub-county in Narok.

The Authority already has other regional offices in Mombasa, Eldoret and Nyeri.

CA Director General Mr. Francis Wangusi addressing the press today on the recent order by CA to mobile operators to suspend or deactivate unregistered SIM cards from their networks.

Mobile users providing false information to register simcard risks six months imprisonment or a fine of Ksh100,000 if found guilty, the telcos regulator has warned.

The warning by Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) comes in the wake of a crackdown that has so far seen 62 SIM card hawkers apprehended and convicted in courts of law. Thirty-four (34) of them have been slapped with penalties, while warrants of arrests have been issued against the others.  Simcard registration regulations also outlaw the hawking of SIM cards, which offence attracts a fine of up to Ksh.500,000 or 12 months imprisonment or both. 

Sim card registration is aimed at enhancing national security by making it possible to trace details of subscribers engaged in criminal activities such as spreading hate speech, mobile money conman ship, extortion or demanding for ransom in kidnapping cases.

Francis Wangusi, Director General, Communications Authority of Kenya CA today in a media briefing said the continued use of unregistered SIM cards is not only criminal but also a threat to national security. “Unregistered SIM cards are misused to perpetuate crime, including money laundering, kidnapping, malicious calls, cybercrime and mobile money fraud,” Mr Wangusi said.

“I wish to make it clear that the law does not allow for proxy registration of SIM cards. Subscribers must appear in person and provide correct information. As a matter of fact, providing incorrect information is an offence that attracts a fine Ksh.100,000 or imprisonment for six (6) months or both,” he added.

In June 2011, then Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta proposed that identification become a legal requirement through the Finance Bill 2011.

This allowed amendment of Section 27 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Act 2013 and Gazettement of regulations requiring companies and individual subscribers - including minors - to register their Sim cards.

Organisations and small businesses have to provide telcos with their official numbers and physical location while parents register on behalf of their children.