Mandatory sim card registration that MACRA is implementing seems to irk some circles of people as expressed in the social media and phone in programmes in various media houses. Those that understand the law will agree with me that MACRA cannot just wake up and decide on matters to do with regulation of ICT services in the country.
I am told that it is a legal requirement and I took my time to read the Communications Act of 2016. And there I found it in section 92 that every sim card and generic number should be registered with a phone service provider. For your information, a generic number is a telephone number that does not require a sim card to operate. For instance, fixed numbers provided by Malawi Telecommunications Limited.
To be specific section 92 of the Communications Act (2016) states as follows and I quote:
A person who uses a generic number or owns or intends to use a SIM card for voice telephony services shall register that generic number or SIM card with any electronic communications licensee or with the distributor, agent or dealer of the electronic communications licensee, authorized to provide or sell generic numbers or SIM cards.
This is the basis for the current exercise. Registration will help prevent crimes that can be committed by perpetrators through the use of phones.
Again we should note that apart from promoting ICT services, MACRA also has a responsibility of protecting users of ICT services.
This is an international practice and I am sure those that have traveled to other countries such as South Africa, Tanzania, and even Mozambique, can attest to this. No one can buy a sim card without registering it first.
As usual, I am at pains to read elsewhere about the fear of abandoning fields by a farmer to go and register. Seriously, will the farmer go to the field every day? Have we not been told that the Network provider companies will be mandated to make registration friendly centers for their customers? And why always attach politics to everything that is done in good faith? What sort of citizens are we?
Protecting the identity of Telecommunication subscribers is an obligation to MACRA AND WE as citizens needed this as early as yesterday.
I, for one, welcome this development and I refuse to be fooled by the bullies who always try to be pessimistic about everything even when they see that they have won a lotto, they will always see politics. In fact, criminals will always punch holes in any great process.
Fear not for the mobile service providers have the obligation enforced by the law of ensuring that the information collected from a subscriber is kept secure and confidential. Let us not slow down this important development!!!!