Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director General Francis Wangusi has been forced to eat his words about an alleged plan by the government to switch off SIM-cards of mobile subscribers who will not have registered for the Huduma Namba before the set deadline of May 18.
In a frantic attempt to calm down a countrywide storm sparked by his words, Wangusi now claims he was misquoted by the media when he stated: “We are waiting for the 45 days to end. We will say, unless you have a Huduma Namba, you don’t have a SIM-card.
So prepare yourself. And when we say it that way, it could be a polite order but it’s an order that is enforceable.”
Interestingly, according to Wangusi, those words did not suggest any plans to switch off SIM-cards but only “emphasized the importance of the Huduma Namba”
“We wish to clarify that the Director General has been quoted out of context. For the record Mr. Wangusi emphasized the importance of the Huduma Namba as a single source of the truth for the identity of citizens,” said Wangusi.
He issued the statement after State House and the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology disowned the alleged plan to switch off SIM-cards.
Wangusi, however, added that “Huduma Namba may be considered for use in the registration of SIM-cards.”
“After adequate consultations with the relevant stakeholders and changes in the law, the Huduma Namba may be considered for use in the registration of SIM-cards,” said Wangusi.
“The Authority, therefore, wishes to assure Kenyans that there are no plans in place to switch off SIM cards for subscribers who will have not registered for Huduma Namba by the set deadline of May 18.”
The ICT Ministry, in its statement, reiterated that the Huduma Namba registration is a voluntary exercise in compliance with the recent High Court ruling.
“There is absolutely no directive from the Government to institute any punitive measures against those who don’t register,” reads part of the statement issued by ICT PS Jerome Ochieng.
Earlier, State House Chief Nzioka Waita also emphasized that registration for Huduma Namba is a purely voluntary process and that nobody will be forced to participate in it.
“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!” Waita wrote on Twitter.
The roll out of the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS), also known as Huduma Namba, had been challenged in court but the government was allowed to continue with the registration on condition that it should not be mandatory.
A three-judge bench – comprising Justices Weldon Korir, Pauline Nyamweya and Mumbi Ngugi – on April 1, 2019, also barred the government from collecting DNA data and GPS coordinates as well as sharing the NIIMS information with any foreign organization.
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