Safaricom, Kenya’s leading mobile network operator, today cut off 680,000 subscribers in compliance with the Communication Commission of Kenya’s fake handset switch-off directive.
Close to 1.4 million subscribers are expected to be switched off by midnight.
Airtel Kenya is expected to switch off about 700,000 of its subscribers, with yuMobile set to block 45,000 and Telkom Kenya 20,000.
Announcing the company’s compliance, Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore sympathised with its customers for bearing the negative consequences of the operation, and promised them full support.
“In order to mitigate the inconvenience we have been contacting all affected customers and providing them with the option of purchasing affordable genuine phones or redeeming their Bonga Loyalty Scheme Points for new handsets,” Collymore said.
Safaricom also confirmed that areas around Nairobi, Rift Valley, Central and Eastern were hardest hit by the exercise, representing more than 60 percent of the targeted counterfeit phones.
“For this exercise to be successful, all operators have to play their part and diligently block the counterfeit devices based on lists they receive from the other networks,” Collymore said.
“We recognise that blocking handsets alone is not the long term solution and we call for more support to the CCK by related government agencies to block entry and sale of the counterfeit devices and to step up prosecution of those who engage in their illegal importation and sale.”
Safaricom in a statement urged the government to reconsider the impending decision to impose VAT on mobile phones saying that the move would make genuine mobile phones unaffordable to the majority of Kenyans.