AS the deadline for biometric registration of SIM cards looms on December 31, this year, available figures show that 18.8 million out of 28.7 million SIM cards were registered biometrically as of December 4, this year.
The latest figures were disclosed in Dar es Salaam on Friday during a launching ceremony of social media awareness campaign to be championed by celebrities and influential people.
According to organisers of the campaign, the influential people were picked from 150 leading social media accounts with a combined followers' base of over 20 million people.
Available figures indicate that nearly two million people visit their accounts on a daily basis.
Through the campaign, the influencers who command the lion's share of followers on social media platforms will use their accounts to create awareness on the importance of biometric registration of SIM cards.
Speaking at the event, the Acting Director General of Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA), Dr Emmanuel Manasseh, reminded Tanzanians to use the remaining time to register their SIM cards.
The communication industry's watchdog launched biometric registration for all SIM cards last year in a move aimed at curbing cyber crimes through mobile phones.
Subscribers are required to either have the national ID cards issued by the National Identification Authority (NIDA) or a registration number from the authority.
Advantages of biometric registration include protection of mobile phone subscribers against cyber fraudsters and enhancing cyber security, among others.
He pointed to the fact that mobile phones have become an enabling platform through Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for many sectors of the economy.
"TCRA has set registration guidelines for different groups, namely Tanzanians who are above 18 years old and those below 18 years, diplomats accredited to Tanzania in addition to public and private institutions," he stated.
The groups also include registered refugees, foreigners with residence permits of less than six months and those with permits of more than six months.
The Director General of NIDA, Dr Arnold Kihaule, said some 21.5 million people have been issued with the national ID cards while 16 million numbers have been given out to people to enable them to register their SIM cards.
Dr Kihaule was, however, concerned that 8.3 million people out of the 16 million people who were issued with numbers have not registered their SIM cards biometrically so far.
The Executive Director of Financial Sector Deepening Trust (FSDT), Mr Sosthenes Kewe, was of a view that the national ID cards will play a crucial role in formalizing the economy since it provides a single database for all biometric information.
A representative from Tanzania Mobile Network Operators (TAMNOA), Ms Jacquiline Materu, assured participants at the ceremony that mobile phone operators have been cooperating closely with TCRA in sensitizing the registration exercise.