As of 1 January 2023, Namibia will join 185 countries in the world that provide mandatory SIM registration. In preparation for the commencement of the registration process, the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) launched the National SIM Registration Awareness Campaign from 7 June 2022 to 31 December 2022.
The purpose of the campaign is to educate consumers on the importance of SIM Registration. During the campaign, CRAN discovered that consumers, through the utilisation of their mobile devices, face the following enormous challenges due to unregistered SIM cards.
Mobile money fraud
Consumers are frequently exposed to irrelevant or unsolicited messages, sent either online or directly from unknown mobile numbers to fraudulently solicit money from consumers or phishing. Consequently, many consumers have become victims of money theft from electronic money transfer services, using their mobile phones.
This happens when fraudsters call consumers, either impersonating electronic transaction officials or pretending to be family members to deceive them to send money or other personal details. In the absence of SIM Registration, the identity of these perpetrators is unknown and law enforcement is often constrained in bringing them to the task. The introduction of SIM card registration will, therefore, lead to more effective and efficient identity verification processes, which enhance personal security and law enforcement.
Mobile and digital identity theft
The occurrence of cyber crimes is on the rise, some of which are attributed to the lack of SIM Registration. One specific occurrence is identity theft. This normally occurs when individuals steal the information of consumers, using personal information such as transactional information.
The information is used to make unlawful transactions, which results in consumers defrauding and losing money or other valuable goods. Therefore, the mandatory registration of SIM cards will boost consumer confidence in the utilisation of electronic transactions, because authorities will have an additional legal tool against online fraudsters who use unregistered mobile numbers to commit identity theft.
SIM Registration is, therefore, a timely development for Namibia, primarily designed to protect consumers, especially in the wake of the unprecedented rise in the utilisation of e-commerce, fintech and other technology-based services and products.
One of CRAN’s objectives is to promote technological innovation and the deployment of advanced facilities and services to respond to the diverse needs of commerce and industry. CRAN believes that this objective cannot be fulfilled, in the absence of SIM registration, which is one of the basic tenets of ensuring digital consumer identity and verification. SIM Registration is thus the gateway for consumers to enjoy the fruit of innovation and other advanced facilities presented in the market. Consumer identity makes the customer more appealing to the service providers, to receive better services and products. It also eliminates the presence of unknown numbers, lowering the probability of online-related criminals.
CRAN, thus, urges all consumers to register their SIM cards to enjoy the availability of a wide range of high quality, reliable and efficient telecommunications services as provided by our licensees.
*Phillipus Shilongo is the Legal Advisor: Adjudication, Enforcement and Litigation at CRAN.