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Three-month grace period for mandatory SIM card registration

Three-month grace period for mandatory SIM card registration

By Adolf Kaure.

The Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Hon Peya Mushelenga has given mobile operators a grace period after recently extending the mandatory Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) registration for another three months.

SIM Registration is a policy adopted by the Namibiabn Government to address security concerns, restrict digital crime and enable the application of selected digital services. It also infringes upon honest citizens’ privacy, now enabling the government to track their movements and user preferences.“Given the extension and extra measures implemented by the operators to register all active cards, I trust that all subscribers will comply with the law,” stated the minister

“The registration of SIM cards is not an open-ended process. Cards not registered by the deadline will be suspended, resulting in unintended consequences. I urge all subscribers who have not yet done so to use the grace period,” he said.

I hereby extend the period for submission of information of existing customers referred to in that regulation, for three months from 1 January 2024 to 31 March 2024, in respect of all service providers – totaling a two–year registration period.

As of 27 December 2023, mobile operators have collectively reported that 62.5% of active SIM card users have registered.

This has translated into 1,491,349 out of 2,383,920 active subscribers registering despite a full year and a half granted for this process since June 2022.

The decision by the minister to extend the registration period is in line with powers vested in him in terms of section 13 of the Interpretation of Laws of Proclamation, 1920 (Proclamation No.37 of 1920) read with regulation 10 (1) of the Regulations in terms of Part 6 of Chapter V the Communications Act published under Government Notice No 40 of 15 March 2021 after consultations were done with relevant stakeholders.

According to Mushelenga, the SIM registration will be used to manage crime and further help mobile operators with online services. “It will be used to manage mobile fraud, act as a tool for e-service rollout and be an instrument that eases and enables digital surveillance and interception as part of investigations of criminal offenses and counter-terrorism efforts.”

“In this digital era, there is no doubt that cellular phones are essential in providing digital and/or online services, providing opportunities for citizens to embrace virtual teaching and learning, mobile banking and online shopping,” said Mushelenga.

SIM registration is required by the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations Agency, of which Namibia is a member, and many African countries have already complied with this requirement. Mandatory SIM registration is in line with international best practices, and Namibia now joins 185 other countries across the world that have already implemented mandatory SIM card registration.

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia issued a directive that the mandatory capture of biometric data will no longer be required for SIM card registration.

Mobile operators will only need the information set out in the regulations, which consists of the customer’s name, address of ordinary residence and Namibian ID, passport or any other official identity document issued by the government of any other country.


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