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How long it takes mobile service providers to replace inactive lines and issue them to new users

The contract between subscribers and mobile service providers in the country is solely depended on their continued active use of their lines. For this reason, if a mobile number is left unused for some time, it’ll most likely end up being issued to a new subscriber. Top mobile service providers in the country including Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom, will wait for a period of not more than six months since the SIM card was last active on their network to declare it dormant and issue it to the next subscriber looking to join their network.

Why someone would want to abandon a current mobile number for a new one

There are plenty of reasons why someone would want to abandon an existing mobile number in favor of a new one. These reasons range from voluntary reasons to those forced by circumstances. I do not want to divulge myself into the political arena but they sure do offer a perfect example of those individuals who replace their mobile numbers voluntarily. On many occasions, once someone wins an elective post especially here in Kenya, their predictable next phase include cutting lose all of their links to friends or people they deem demanding who otherwise are naïve voters.

However, at the same time, someone would want to disassociate himself from a certain number by circumstance which may involve disconnecting from old self or people with ill intentions. Some mobile numbers from Safaricom, Airtel and even Telkom have been involved or still run criminal syndicates aiming to fraud unsuspecting Kenyans. These criminals usually do not stay with that number for long after accomplishing their mission, and sometimes end up in the hands of innocent Kenyans.

I remember a while back when a friend went to Safaricom customer care center and bought a new mobile number for personal use only to later learn the number had been used to borrow several mobile loans. Safaricom was not in a position to assist, vaguely advising my friend to contact those specific loan companies to explain that he indeed was a different entity.   

How long Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom take to deactivate unused mobile number

  • Having used SIM cards from all the providers in Kenya, it takes about six months for your number to be deactivated but it takes a little longer for it to be issued to a new subscriber- almost a year.
  • In some cases, you’ll have a grace period to reactivate your number by just loading it with airtime.
  • How to check when your Safaricom, Airtel or Telkom number will be deactivated: just check for your airtime balance and identify the date when its expected to expire. In most cases is usually within six months.

How to avoid your mobile number being deactivated and issued to a new subscriber

  • Make sure you’ve registered your phone number properly with the respective telecommunications provider.
  • At least ensure you’ve loaded airtime in a span of less than three months. If you do this your line will always stay active in their database.

 If you’re travelling outside the country and plan to be away for more than six months, dedicate someone who will ensure your number stays active by loading and using airtime at least once a month.


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