Safaricom repossessing numbers (What the heck!)

Hi Brian,

We are very sorry for your experience, and thank you for taking time to discuss the matter with us and also raise it in this forum.

For some context, Safaricom’s adheres to global best practice as set out by the ITU who state that a mobile number assigned to you should be topped up at least once every 90 days in order to be considered an active customer. Further, the Communications Authority’s reporting requirements indicate that a number needs to undertakes a chargeable transaction within 90 day period for it to be considered active. This includes, the making of any chargeable outbound calls, sending chargeable SMSes, accessing mobile data services or re-charging of your account.

This is because numbering resources are limited, hence necessitating their efficient use by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs). Notably, MNOs have now exhausted the 07XXXXXXXX series, requiring the addition of the 01XXXXXXXX for mobile subscribers. Related to this, Safaricom and other MNOs need to demonstrate to the CA that existing numbers allocated to them are active and in use prior to being allocated a new mobile prefix. As a result of this, unfortunately MNOs are unable to accommodate indefinite assignment of numbers to customers, particularly where there is no usage.

To communicate the above to our customers, we clearly state in our Conditions of Use of our Services that customers are required to have a chargeable transaction within 120 days (an extra 30 days over and above the standard 90 days) in order to keep their numbers active. In the absence of the same, the Conditions further state that we reserve the right to deactivate and recycle the number assigned to a customer due to inactivity.

In your particular case, we note that you had not topped up the number since November 22nd 2019. We further note that there was no chargeable transaction for a period of at least 120 days. We sent you several notifications via SMS (at least three according to our customer care team) before the number was recycled to request that you recharge so that it did not expire. These notifications are standard practice for all customers whose numbers are in a similar state.

Regarding the identity issue, we encourage all customers to ensure their relevant number remains active for as long as they may need it. It is also worth mentioning that several of the sites you have mentioned also have alternate means to enable users to either change their number to a new one, or to switch their authentication method as necessary.

I am available to engage further with you on this if needed.


Chief Corporate Affairs Officer
Safaricom PLC

From: kictanet <> On Behalf Of Brian Munyao Longwe via kictanet
Sent: Monday, September 7, 2020 2:13 PM
To: Stephen Chege <>
Cc: Brian Munyao Longwe <>
Subject: Re: [kictanet] Safaricom repossessing numbers (What the heck!)

This is clearly a (big) problem.

I sincerely hope that folk at MOICT and CA are following this discussion. This is squarely a policy/regulatory issue. SAfaricom is not going to “help” anyone of their own volition.


On Mon, Sep 7, 2020 at 11:24 AM Eric Mugendi via kictanet <<>> wrote:
Interesting subject. I bought a line recently, and I now get reminder texts from Dlight that are meant for someone named Jane Kosgei reminding her to make daily payments. The line was also used to take a loan on Branch, who are also sending reminders that this needs to be paid. It was used to set up a Facebook account, and Lord knows which other accounts I am yet to discover.
As far as I’m concerned, I bought a new line, and it’s not my job to reach out to these people and ask them to remove my number. I’ve tried with Dlight, but they still send texts every day. The service provider should alert you when you buy a new line showing which services it is subscribed to, or is this too much to ask?

Eric Mugendi

On Mon, 7 Sep 2020 at 11:11, simiyu mse via kictanet <<>> wrote:
I remember losing a number that way before mpesa became a thing. The inconvenience was simple, notifying people of your change in number, losing a few deals and life resumed. Not so much anymore with mpesa, ecitizen, KRA, and many other 2FA services being linked to this number.

I believe with Mpesa effectively acting as a bank account for people now, the current quiet 6 month countdown is not very ergonomic. With people using other providers as primary and keeping the safaricom line as secondary/mpesa/ecitizen etc, it is time Safaricom introduced notification methods on this pending loss of line. I mean we get birthday texts, it is not any more difficult to implement.

Either by sending emails a month to expiry, texts to your primary line (the saf one in this case) and/or a secondary line. Even option for next of kin. This gives one an option to salvage the issue before it turns quite tumultuous. With our numbers being our identity in very many services.

I remember Big Green was handing over KSh. 500m of unclaimed assets to UFAA a short while ago, so there is alot done right, this just needs mild sanding.


On Sat, Sep 5, 2020, 1:30 PM Barrack Otieno via kictanet <<>> wrote:

I think it might be good to give a right to reply to Safaricom on this issue, not sure if Steve is still on the list or if this issue has been brought to his attention. I personally would like to be educated on the current state of affairs.Many folks are buying simcards for frivolous reasons and throwing them away, i guess it is a tough balance for the Telcos and

On Sat, 5 Sep 2020, 10:16 am Wainaina Mungai via kictanet, <<>> wrote:
Pole sana Brian,

On this one, many people can relate. I look forward to a solution that will ensure we get to keep our lines and have to give express authority to have the same transfered.


On Sat, 5 Sep 2020, 08:21 Twahir Hussein Kassim via kictanet, <<>> wrote:
Totally agree with you Maria!

On Fri, Sep 4, 2020, 10:37 PM maria@afrikaict via kictanet <<>> wrote:
Hi Brian and Listers:

That’s odd but understandable. Have had my Safcom for the 20 years I have been Washington DC Diaspora and yes there are times I have been gone for several months fortunately not YEARS at a go!

So the secret is just loading enough airtime and doing one small transaction like buying airtime once a month!

I did however have a shocking one with my Telkom Kenya line I have used for 18 months 0770722018 just rudely assigned to someone else yet I was MOSTLY in Kenya and used this LINE DAILY as the BETTER MORE AFFORDABLE OPTION!

Our Telcos can be RIDICULOUS in “FOLLOWING” set out regulations in a VERY SELECTIVE MANNER!

My SAFCOM MY MAISHA MY IDENTITY! I feel for you Ndugu Longwe, That one fight it out hata kama ni KORTINI!

My two cents take on the matter!


On Friday, September 4, 2020, Brian Munyao Longwe via kictanet <<>> wrote:
Hi folk,

It’s been a long time. I hope you are all well?

So – mimi niko na issue.

My Safaricom number 0715964281 has apparently been repossessed and sold to someone else. The other day I opened up my Safaricom app to send some m-pesa to my daughter as she transits through Nairobi from Malaysia and shock on me! It displayed the name as “Beatrice Chelangat”

As many of you know – I have been “diaspora” for a good number of years (close to 9) and am currently based in Malawi. I went to the Kenyans in Malawi Whatsapp group and mentioned the issue and was told that my line is gone because I failed to top up in over 6 months. (This is very true, I think the last time I used the line was more than 8 months ago).

What I find surprising is that this has never been a problem in the preceding 9+ years that I have been diaspora. My line has many times gone more than 6,7,8 months without a topup – but always “wakes up” when I load airtime. And m-pesa has always worked. What gives?

I am distressed because my m-pesa, my e-Citizen, NTSA, bank accounts and many other digital assets / identity related items are linked to this number which I have had for the past 15+ years. My digital identity (and that of many others in similar predicament) is at risk. How did CA allow this kind of reappropriation to happen without an extensive process?

I would expect that at a minimum – after the expiry of a period of non-use, and several alerts sent to the number Safaricom (or any other mobile operator) should publish a gazette notice listing numbers (and associated registered persons) they want to deactivate/repossess and allow a period (3 months?) for the owners to claim their number. At the end of this period then admittedly no one should complain.

Otherwise as far as I am concerned I have just been the victim of a sim-cloning scam perpetrated by the same company that provides me with the telecoms service!

I would like to hear what the thoughts of the many much brighter people than me on this group are….

Best regards,


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