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Block those SIM cards

MOBILE phone users, both at corporate and individual levels, should heed the warning by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) to verify their subscriber identification module (SIM) registration. ZICTA says it will deactivate timelines for non-compliant SIM cards. The threat follows an earlier statement issued on the need for members of the general public and businesses to regularise their SIM card registration as stated through Statutory Instrument No. 65 of 2011. The deactivation timeline is for more than 10 SIM cards registered under one national registration card. ZICTA had announced a seven-day asylum to all subscribers with non-compliant SIM card registration details to regularise their registrations before January 28, 2022. The subscribers were expected to visit service centres with their valid identity cards such as national registration cards, passports or driver’s licences to provide justification for the excess SIM cards and regularise their registrations. Despite appropriate warning messages which were sent to subscribers with more than 10 SIM cards and those with non-compliant registration details, it appears there has been no adherence, hence ZICTA sounding the latest warning. SIM card registration is the process of recording and verifying mobile phone numbers, including personal information of a subscriber done by a mobile communications service provider. Zambia has three mobile communication companies – Airtel, MTN and Zamtel. The latest call-out by ZICTA for verification of SIM registration is designed to create a database to aid law enforcement agencies identify the mobile phone SIM card owners. With so many scammers on the loose cheating unsuspecting citizens out of their hard-earned money, the SIM verification exercise for people and business houses is intended to help track criminally minded people who use mobile phones for illegal activities. SIM registration also helps to curb incidents such as loss of phones through theft, nuisance, hate text messages, fraud, threats and inciting violence. It is a customer-centric exercise as it helps service providers know their customers better. There is no need for citizens to hesitate to verify their SIM cards if they do not have evil intentions, more so that the exercise is free of charge on all networks. This decision is, therefore, in the best interest of people who either did not register or did not verify or indeed are using third-party SIM cards. There was a trend by some mobile phone agents to pre-register all their SIM cards in their names and selling them to any Jim and Jack. With time, these agents have no control over who they sold the SIM cards to and this has given rise to scammers. Criminally minded people bought these cards in bulk and are now on the loose, sweet-talking unsuspecting citizens into parting with various amounts of money for non-existent goods or services. Thanks to ZICTA, their days may be numbered as they are about to be caught through this exercise. Mobile phone operators should not leave this task to ZICTA alone. They should seize the opportunity to verify their customer base. It will give a true picture about their subscriber base as they will be living in the past as many of their users are dormant. It is good ZICTA has taken the matter seriously to protect well-meaning consumers.