The Communications Commissions of Kenya (CCK) issued a deadline requiring all mobile services operators to switch off all unidentified mobile devices on their networks. The deadline ended on Sunday 30th September.
Now the regulator has released the switch-off figures. Through a statement, CCK say that Airtel has switched off 140,000 handsets, Safaricom 680,000, Orange 75,000 and yuMobile around 45,000. The figure makes it to around 1 million (640,000) to be exact.
The switch-off happened in phases to enable the operators to handle glitches on the networks during the exercise. But it has been very hard to find the people whose handsets have been switched off. Some of the operators also said that they are not going to carry the exercise in a single day but might last as long as a month.
It is not clear what the exercise actually achieved if you ignore the figures from CCK and the operators. Operators might be giving CCK figures just to please the regulator. I bought two fake handsets on Friday to experience the actual switch-off but neither of them have been switched off by either Safaricom or Airtel.
CCK has ironically set up compensation mechanism for the operators and importers who paid duty while the actual consumers would not be refunded even a cent for the loss. That is how unfair the justice system in Kenya can really be.
Possession of mobile devices which are not type-approved will attract a jail term not exceeding three years, a fine not more than Sh300, 000 or both.
UPDATE: The effort is now being hampered by very enterprising Kenyans who change the IMEI of the switched-off phones with those which can’t be repaired or those being returned to vendors as old phones. Mobile phone technicians in downtown Nairobi are able to bring back the phones to life by just replacing the counterfeit IMEI with the IMEI of the original phones. They charge a maximum of Ksh 1,000 for this.