Mobile phone operator, Airtel Malawi , says it has barred one million numbers of its unregistered subscribers.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) had threatened to punish the mobile phone network operator for alleged non-compliance with the deadline for registration of subscriber identity module (SIM).
Macra on Wednesday accused the operator of defying lawful orders, violating the Communications Act and unfair business conduct.
But the company said it has completed the barring process on Wednesday just on time to avert penalties from the government.
Airtel Malawi managing director Charles Kamoto said in a statement made available to Nyasa Times that the mobile phone operator has always been and will remain a law-abiding company acting in accordance with the country’s laws.
“As a law abiding entity, Airtel has had discussions with Macra on the issue and remain committed to working with Macra and the government on this important initiative,” said Kamoto in the statement.
However, civil rights activist Rafiq Hajat and veteran journalist Dickson Kashoti said they had registered their phone numbers long ago and were surprised that the numbers had been barred.
Writing on the Facebook walls, Hajat and Kashoti said their effort to register again on Wednesday yielded nothing as the numbers remain barred.
Most customers had been rushing to Airtel agents to reregister their numbers after they were barred.
However, spokesman for Airtel Norah Chavula said people should go to Airtel shops to have their numbers debarred.
Another mobile phone operator, TNM says it has registered 75 per cent of its customers and said it was extending the registration period to give a chance to those who have not registered do so.
But spokesperson for Macra, Clara Mulonya said TNM or any other mobile operator cannot extend the registration period.
Meanwhile, Macra deputy director for consumer affairs Thoko Chimbe has said the regulator will still summon Airtel over the matter because it treats the failure to deactivate accounts as non-compliance.
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