Malawi government has suspended the mandatory subscriber identity module (SIM) card registration over concerns of State spying and the long queues in verification, government spokesman Nicholous Dausi has told Parliament.
There were long queues at service providers as hundreds as people have been trooping out o register their SIMs to beat the March deadline and people have been venting their frustration via social media.
In Parliament, opposition legislators also raised the concerns prompting Minister of Information, Communication and ICT Nicholous Dausi announcing that the process has been suspended.
“Government has taken note of the questions and concerns raised by the general public directly and through their honourable members of Parliament regarding the administrative and technical aspects for implementing this requirement of the law [in registering SIMs],” said Dausi.
Dausi, who is also government official spokesman, said the implementation of the simcard registration has been deferred “until the administrative and technical concerns and questions are addressed.”
He said while the State understands that the requirement to have the simcards is a matter of law, it is “ a listening government” which feels it is imperative to listen to public so that the implementation of the law should be smooth.
Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) said the mandatory registration of sim cards and generic numbers will help prevent crime and fraudulent cases encountered in the absence of the provision.
Meanwhile, Dausi said the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology will be engaging the Macra, the mobile phone service operators and other relevant stakeholders to agree on the “modalities of executing a robust awareness campaign” to assist in addressing some of the concerns.
“Government wishes to assure the public and all stakeholders that it will ensure that this process is expedited taking into account that the law should be respected,” Dausi said.
To have sim card registered, individual subscribers were required to provide full name, gender, date of birth, residential or business address and an identity card number.