Govt makes U-turn as to switching off SIM cards

14Nov 2019
Felister Peter
The Guardian
Govt makes U-turn as to switching off SIM cards

THE government yesterday assured Tanzanians that no SIM card will be switched off after the December 31st 2019 deadline for electronic registration requiring subscriber’s national ID and fingerprints.

Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola

The Tanzania Communications and Regulatory Authority (TCRA) set December 31st as deadline for the registration exercise which started on May 1st, 2019.

“Tanzanians will continue enjoying communication services even after the set deadline. No SIM card will be switched off, so no one will be denied mobile phone services for not registering,” Home Affairs Minister Kangi Lugola told the National Assembly in Dodoma yesterday.

Lugola quoted President John Magufuli’s statement in April, when he ordered TCRA to extend the deadline for biometric SIM card registration on grounds that only a few Tanzanians possess national IDs.

The president said that out of 55 million Tanzanians, only about 13 to 14 million had national identity cards.

The minister insisted that registration of eligible Tanzanians for the national identification cards through National Identification Authority (NIDA) is continuous.

“Those with no physical national IDs can use provided ID numbers to electronically register their SIM cards,” asserted Lugola.

He said so far issuance of national IDs continuous across the country whereby 20,500,000 Tanzanians have so far been registered by NIDA, out of the targeted 24,500,000. He said that NIDA has so far produced 15,500,000 identification numbers.

Minister Lugola directed NIDA officials across the country to make sure the produced ID numbers are given to specific individuals especially those in rural areas.

Atashasta Nditiye, the Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication informed MPs last week that mobile phone companies have so far registered 12,783,000 Tanzanians out of the 44 million people having SIM cards.

“Government data shows there are 44 million people hold SIM cards, but we have registered over 12 million people only. Our target is to register all SIM card holders,” he had declared.