SIM cards in Tanzania are scheduled to be blocked on Monday, 20 January 2020 if their owners do not biometrically register them before the stated deadline. The government has promised to block unregistered SIM cards after the stated deadline.
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As of September 2019, only 5.2 million SIM cards had reportedly been registered using the biometric requirements stipulated, compelling the Tanzanian government to push its December 31 deadline forward. According to the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) as of January 5 2020, just over half the country’s 44 million SIM cards had been registered.
The East African nation believes that this is a proactive step in the fight against cybercrime and mobile related fraud, a growing trend in Tanzania. As of 2017, cybercrime related incidences had risen to 82% in Tanzania alone.
The SIM card registration exercise also affects the issuance of Identification Cards (ID), as Tanzanians need their ID cards in order to register their SIM cards.
In a bid to meet with the January 20 2020 deadline, the Deputy Minister for Home Affairs, Hamad Masauni, directed that the National Identification Authority (NIDA) – the agency responsible for issuing identification cards – work 16 hours a day. Weekends and public holidays are not exempted.
Masauni also directed that NIDA employ additional workforce to fast track the process.
With the SIM cards biometrically registered and linked to their owners, it would be easier for authorities to track mobile related transactions and trace fraudulent activities where needed.