The government, through the Communications Authority of Kenya (CAK), on Thursday evening announced that the it will switch off phone sim-cards whose owners fail to register for Huduma Namba by May 18.

The announcement comes despite a High Court decision directing that the government should not force or punish Kenyans who opt not to register on the Huduma Namba.

Interior CS Fred Matiang'i had earlier said that the government planned to honor the court directive, but noted that the quality of service for unregistered Kenyans would be of lower quality.

We are not going to force anyone to register. We are only telling people to register because it is common sense. If for some reason you don’t want it, well, it is fine but unfortunate."

Without a Huduma Namba, you will get government service yes, but it will take government officers an unnecessary long time to serve you. It is like this, if you have an email address, I can send you something within a minute, If you don’t, you will have to pick it or wait until it is delivered through the postal address,” Matiang’i explained.

Immigration PS Gordon Kihalangwa also warned Kenyans who do not register in the National Integrated Identity Management System (NIIMS) will face a hard time when applying for passports.

If you are not in NIIMS and you are applying for a passport, we will know very well that you are not a Kenyan,” said Kihalangwa.

The 45-day national registration exercise will cost taxpayers Sh6 billion but has faced criticism over concerns raised by human right groups over concerns over how the data collected will be used and stored.

However, hours after the announcement by Mr. Wangusi and backlash by majority kenyans, CAK later claimed that the former was quoted out of context.

“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 Number as a single source of truth for the identity of citizens. He noted that unscrupulous persons have in the past used either lost ID cards or ID cards of dead persons to register SIM Cards with the express purpose of misusing the cards so registered to participate in criminal activities.

"The Authority therefore wishes to assure Kenyans that there are no plans to switch of SIM cards for Subscribers who will have not registered for Huduma Number by the set deadline of May 18” read part of the statement.