Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) spokesperson Katrina Sikeni has urged cellphone users to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards before the deadline of 31 December 2023.
Doing so will capacitate national safety and security agencies to ensure a safe digital environment due to an increase in the use of digital and/or online services, she said. Sikeni highlighted that SIM card registration is aimed at facilitating the investigation of crimes committed with the aid of mobile devices.
CRAN launched the national SIM registration consumer awareness campaign in June 2022 to educate the public on the importance of SIM card record-keeping. CRAN last week announced that unregistered SIM cards would be deactivated after 31 December 2023, adding that new SIM cards must be subjected to registration before use.
On 1 January 2023, Namibia became the 158th country in the world to institute mandatory SIM registration. “This provides opportunities for Namibians to embrace virtual teaching and learning, mobile banking and online shopping,” Sikeni explained.
Sikeni told New Era Namibia must leverage the use of safe and secure mobile technology to enjoy the benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) and meet the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
“SIM card registration can enable many consumers to access value-added mobile and digital services that would otherwise be unavailable to them as unregistered users,” she explained.
The ICT ministry, in terms of Part 6 of the Communications Act of 2009, published guidelines that authorise CRAN to impose additional conditions on mobile service providers, including Telecom Namibia, to enable the registration of SIM cards in the country.
On his part, Telecom CEO Stanley Shanapinda said SIM card registration is about public safety in cyberspace and requires customers to register a SIM card in their name to access the network mobile services and other related products. “It is an important tool for preventing phone-based fraud, scams, identity theft and other criminal activities. Law enforcement agencies can only access a customer’s call data if a crime has been reported and a warrant has been issued by a judge. As such, and because we take the privacy of our customers seriously, it is only under these legal circumstances that we will disclose any records,” stated Shanapinda.
Concerning minors who own cellular phones, Shanapinda said a mobile service provider may not conclude a contract allowing a minor or a person under legal guardianship to obtain a SIM card unless the minor or person, under legal guardianship, is accompanied by his/her parent or legal guardian with authentic proof of such parenthood or guardianship.
Commencing from the end of January 2023, CRAN will release the official number of registered customers monthly.
The SIM card registration conditions apply to Namibian and foreign nationals, and they include new or existing customers.