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Govt urged to extend SIM card registration deadline

Govt urged to extend SIM card registration deadline

As the December 31, 2019 deadline for biometric SIM card registration draws near, some Kagera residents have appealed to the National Identification Agency (NIDA) to speed up issuance of identity cards to avoid inconvenience.

Mr Jacob Kalikumutima (43) from Mugoma Village in Ngara District told this paper by telephone that he was a victim of circumstances.

“The deadline for the biometric SIM card registration is almost coming to an end, but NIDA has failed to provide us with identity cards. We appeal to President John Magufuli’s intervention to extend the deadline,” he said.

Reports from Ngara, Karagwe, Kyerwa, Biharamulo and Missenyi districts said many people, especially those living near the border, had not received NIDA identity numbers.

Kagera Region shares borders with three neighbouring countries - Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

Tanzania plans to limit the number of mobile phone lines an individual can have per network to curb cybercrime and boost security.

Biometric SIM card registration started from May 1 to September 30, but was later extended to December 31, 2019.

Subscribers are required to present their national identification cards or an ID number for registration.

Mr Emmanuel Zabron from Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) in the Lake Zone noted that the current system was not secure enough and lacked requisite subscriber details which were vital for ID card registration initiated two years ago.

Information obtained from registered SIM cards will be directly linked to the subscriber’s national ID card to ensure there is no misinformation or document forgery.

“No one can forge fingerprints,” he stressed. Deputy Minister for Transport and Communications Atashasta Nditiye said biometric registration would stop individuals from holding multiple lines of the same network, most of which were used for fraud and theft. He, however, said subscribers would be allowed to own multiple numbers from different networks by applying in writing to TCRA. The same applies to owning additional SIM cards from the same operator. “In case one wants to have several SIM cards of the same mobile operator for different devicesone is permitted, but TCRA must be aware of it,” the minister said.

There are more than 40 million mobile phone subscribers in Tanzania.

Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola cautioned NIDA officials to be careful when issuing IDs, to avoid issuing them to wrong persons especially subscribers living near border villages.

Mr Lugola gave the warning while addressing a rally in Kaisho Township in Kyerwa District recently.

“I have received reports showing that some of the foreigners are issued IDs. I direct NIDA officials to verify those who have been issued IDs. Cheats must be prosecuted,” he stressed.

On December 13, 2019 TCRA reported that only 42 per cent of SIM cards had been registered while about 21.7 million others out of 47 million were yet to be registered.

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