Verdict for SIM card registration extension set for 29th

Martin Endjala

The Executive Director of the Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (MICT), Audrin Mathe, announced that the ministry will decide on 29 December 2023, regarding whether to extend the national Subscriber Identity Model card (SIM card) registration process.

Mathe explained that this decision will be based on the data collected weekly by both Mobile Telecommunications (MTC) and Telecom Namibia in collaboration with the ministry.

“As things stand, the deadline remains unchanged, and we will not make any changes to the registration process. The deadline of December 31, 2023, still stands. Over the next two weeks, we will engage with the operators to obtain data through the regulator CRAN. This data will help us determine how many people have been registered at a particular point in time and will inform our course of action,” said Mathe.

When questioned about the possibility of extending the deadline, Mathe said that the long queues currently observed are typical of Namibian culture, where people tend to wait until the last minute.

He warned that even if the deadline were extended, there would still be individuals reluctant to register on time and would only do so at the last minute.

Mathe further stressed that for a small nation like Namibia, the initially planned 18 months, later extended to two years, should have provided ample time for registration.

He expressed disappointment that only 45 percent of the population has been reported as registered.

MICT will continue to monitor the situation, but Mathe called on citizens to do their part and register their SIM cards before the deadline, or risk having their numbers disconnected and suspended for a period of three months.

Meanwhile, CRAN Legal Advisor Stanley Kavetu explained that the three-month suspension of SIM cards, effective from January 1, 2024, is intended to give unregistered SIM card holders time to register and retain their numbers during that period.

Failure to do so may result in losing their numbers to someone else.

Patience Kanalelo, MTC’s Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, acknowledged that the SIM card registration process, launched by CRAN in June 2022, has been slow due to people waiting until the last minute. Currently, 925,280 subscribers are registered, representing 40 percent of customers, with 53 percent of MTC subscribers still unregistered.

Kanalelo mentioned that MTC has hired an additional 160 people stationed in various regions, and its shops will remain open for extended hours.

Efforts will focus on regions with the highest number of unregistered SIM cards. Additionally, MTC has introduced an online registration platform, encouraging smartphone users to utilize it and allowing those without smartphones to register at physical pop-up locations.

Telecom Namibia’s Chief Executive Officer, Stanley Shanapinda reported that to date, Telecom Namibia’s prepaid base customers stand at 417,646, with 201,126 of them registered. Last week, 52,107 SIM cards were registered, constituting 55 percent.

Shanapinda mentioned that operating hours would be extended, and TeleShops would be set up in areas lacking such facilities in the coming weeks.

He urged citizens to make use of these interventions early, emphasizing that the company’s revenue and the well-being of Namibians are at stake, and unity is needed to address the situation effectively.

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