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Authority’s SIM card threat 'not official position'

Thursday April 18 2019

Nzioka Waita

Mr Nzioka Waita, the chief of staff at the Office of the President. He contradicted the President on transparency and accountability by asserting that the relevant documents for SGR cannot be made public for scrutiny. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

PAUL WAFULA
By PAUL WAFULA
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The Information ministry Thursday dismissed a threat by the communication’s regulator that it will block SIM cards whose owners do not have a Huduma Namba.

The ministry said the statement by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) was not the official government position since the court had stopped the government from forcing any Kenyan to get the new identification number.

The ministry’s position was echoed by Mr Nzioka Waita, the chief of staff at the Office of the President.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Huduma Namba registration is a voluntary exercise in compliance with the ruling of the Courts,” Mr Waita said in a tweet.

“There is no directive from the government to institute any punitive measures against those who don’t register. More emphasis will be laid on civic education!” he added.

The CA Thursday threatened to block all SIM cards whose owners do not have a Huduma Namba after the registration is completed.

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The Authority’s Director-General, Mr Francis Wangusi, said the Huduma Namba would replace the national IDs cards used to register SIM cards.

“Once the 45 day registration exercise is over, we shall engage mobile operators to switch off the SIM Cards,” Wangusi said in an interview with the Nation. He said if the government extended the registration, the switching off would also be extended.

The threat e to switch off the SIM cards appears to be the latest push by the government to force Kenyans to acquire the new identification number, touted as the one-stop source of information on all citizens.

Wangusi justified the move saying criminals have infiltrated the National IDs and there are instances where terrorists have used IDs of dead people to acquire SIM cards.

He said the Huduma Namba will give the authority a new avenue to clean the system and prevent cyber criminals from penetrating the system.

This is now set to make the Huduma Namba the most important identification number for Kenyan citizens. It is under the National Integrated Management Systems (Niims) being pushed by the jubilee administration and has been endorsed by the opposition leaders to give it a national buy in.

The system will consolidate population registration information into a single database for ease of verification by both government and private bodies.