SIM card registration period will not be extended

Martin Endjala

The Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MICT) has maintained that the period for the registration of Subscriber Identity Model (SIM) cards will not be extended beyond the 31 December 2023 deadline.

This is despite calls from various sections of society to extend the set deadline

During an interview with Windhoek Observer this week, the Executive Director of the information ministry, Audrin Mathe said that despite the time frame provided for this critical process, it is disappointing to observe the low public response, reiterating that there will be no extensions.

Mathe and representatives from both the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN), Telecom Namibia, and Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC), took a tour to visit the Black Chain Mall in Katutura to see firsthand the status quo on the ground at the SIM card registration branches.

Some public members on the Windhoek Observer social media platforms have questioned the rationale of the ministry’s unwillingness to compromise.

According to CRAN, as of 30 November 2023, only 1, 043 144 out of 2, 436 367 across all networks have registered their SIM cards, signifying a 43 percent registration rate.

The Ministry is encouraging the public to register their SIM Cards before the deadline of 31 December 2023, warning that unregistered SIM cards will be disconnected.

“It is essential to underscore the significance of SIM card registration, as this process plays a pivotal role in deterring phone-based fraud, identity theft, and other criminal activities. Mandatory registration and identification of SIM card users aligns Namibia with international best practices, explained Mathe.

In the race to the deadline date, MTC Managing Director Licky Erastus has recently announced that it has now introduced an online SIM card registration.

The online platform is aimed at addressing the long queues and providing ease of registering as an effort to make sure that all subscribers are registered before the deadline.

Erastus pointed to the lack of citizens coming forth to register despite efforts put in place such as mobile SIM card registration initiatives going from town to town, villages and locations, attributing it to the challenges of its staff having to provide services to a large number of people.

This is a move that is welcomed by many Namibians since the word on the street dictates that the long queues are unbearable with some going to the extent of mentioning that despite going early to the centres, they find themselves having to come back the next day again.

Nedbank Managing Director Martha Murorua highlighted those SIM card holders whose cards will be disconnected if not registered will negatively impact the banks and customers, with the electronic fund transition amongst those to feel the punch.

She stated that people will not be able to send money through cellphone banking nor receive or pay their bills, lamenting that this move will regress the digitalisation of banking which was aimed at bringing services closer to the people in the comfort of their homes.

She proposed that MICT should reconsider its decision and extend the deadline day.

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