MOBILE phone users in the country were yesterday advised to own one SIM card per telecommunication firm instead of possessing several SIM cards from the same service providers.
Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Engineer Atashasta Ndiyite refuted claims that the government intends to control ownership of SIM cards during the envisaged biometric registration, scheduled to start on May 1, this year.
Mr Joseph Selasini (Rombo—CHADEMA) said in his supplementary question that the government was planning to limit wananchi from owning SIM cards during the registration exercise.
In his main question, Mr Selasini argued that it is improper to limit SIM card ownership because some of the mobile phone service providers are not available in some parts of the country.
“You might find operator A is available here and B is not available, therefore limiting customers to a single operator is unfair,” said Mr Selasini.
In his response, Engineer Nditiye admitted that the government has ordered all mobile subscribers to re-register their SIM Cards through biometric process (fingerprints) and they are advised to own one mobile number per operator.
“It’s true that I directed biometric registration of SIM cards from May 1 to December 31 this year but I did not say one should have single SIM card as it has been reported, owning more than one SIM cards remains an option for users,” said Engineer Nditiye.
Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) announced the re-registration through which subscribers have to possess the National Identification Authority (NIDA) or its number for registration.
TCRA launched a pilot project to register SIM cards using the technology in March last year. The exercise was conducted in Zanzibar, Dodoma and Dar es Salaam. Other areas include Coast, Singida, Tanga and Iringa regions.
Engineer Nditiye said the move aims at getting rid of dishonest SIM card users and registration agents who harboured malicious intentions, including committing crimes.
He said the decision seeks to protect Tanzanians against abuses in the telecommunications sector, considering that currently at least 11.7tri/- is transacted monthly through mobile money platforms.
TCRA in their statement said foreigners and other special groups will have a separate arrangement on how to register their SIM cards, including the use of their passports.
TCRA figures show that there were 43.62 million SIM cards as of December 31, last year.
The new SIM card registration system, according to TCRA, seeks to ensure that the regulator has correct particulars and statistics for sectoral development as well as helping them to curb forged identities.