Telecoms Regulation

Mozambique Calls For Prepaid SIM Card Registration

Mozambique is pushing for the immediate registration of prepaid SIM cards despite various concerns relating to privacy and the potential interference with election monitoring methods.

In June this year, the Mozambican Communications Authority (ARECOM) gave a 10-day ultimatum for telecoms operators to register all users of prepaid SIM cards.

In three letters that were sent by the Mozambican Communications Authority to Vodacom, Movitel and TmCel, the regulator accused all three mobile operators of violating the laws for the registration and activation of SIM card subscriber identification modules.

In the letters, ARECOM issued five instructions to the operators in order to deal with the issue of unregistered SIM cards in the market.

The cry for the registration of SIM cards dates back to 2010 when the government that was at the time led by President Armando Guebuza approved a ministerial law that ordered users of cellphones to register their SIM cards within 30 days. 

At the time, concerned citizens and bloggers viewed the decision as an intimidation attempt.

Even though the initial deadline to register SIM cards was extended to 7 January 2011, none of Mozambique's telephone operators cancelled the unregistered SIM cards, prompting the government to issue its recent ultimatum.

TmCel and Movitel have now accepted ARECOM's ultimatum to block the unregistered numbers.

The Mozambican government is adamant that the registration of SIM cards will help it fight fraud and other crimes. However, privacy groups see the registration of these SIM cards as a violation of the users' right to communicate privately.


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