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Govt speaks on sim cards registration: Ministerial Statement

Written by  Honourable Nicholas Harry Dausi
Gave the Statement in Parliament on Monday: Information and Communications Technology Minister Nicholas Harry Dausi Gave the Statement in Parliament on Monday: Information and Communications Technology Minister Nicholas Harry Dausi

MINISTERIAL STATEMENT
ON MANDATORY REGISTRATION OF SIM CARDS AND GENERIC NUMBERS
DELIVERED IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
BY
HON NICHOLAS HARRY DAUSI
MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY
ON, 12TH FEBRUARY, 2018

 

1.0  PREAMBLE
Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, allow me to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share with the people of Malawi, represented in this august House by Honourable Members, the progress that is being made in the implementation of the Communications Act which was passed by this August House during its budget sitting of 2016.

2.0 INTRODUCTION
Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, Honourable Members will recall that in July 2016, the National Assembly passed Bill No. 24 of 2015: Communications which put in place a new Communications Act, thereby effectively replacing the Communications Act of 1998.

 
The promulgation and enactment of the new Communications Act, Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, arose from the need to have in place a piece of legislation which would respond to vast changes, upgrades and developments in the Communications Sector which has since rendered the old Communications Act irrelevant.
The objectives of the new Act include:

  • to recognize the convergence of technologies and services for telecommunications, broadcasting, and information through the establishment of technology and service-neutral licensing regimes;
  • to remove unnecessary barriers to entry, and attract investment, in the communications sector;
  • to facilitate the deployment and use of communications services;
  • to encourage the adoption of new services and technologies within the communications sector;
  • to encourage the participation of indigenous Malawians in the communications sector;
  • to facilitate the provision of affordable communication services;
  • to facilitate technology neutrality; and
  • to ensure consumer protection.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, let me take this opportunity to once again thank Honourable Members for putting in place a new legal framework for, among other things, regulating the provision of services in the electronic communications sector, posts and information society.

3.0 SIM CARD REGISTRATION
Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, Honourable Members willrecall that the law that this August House passed creates the need for registration of generic numbers and sim cards.
This is provided for in section 92 of the Act. Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, allow me to quote the section in question to refresh the minds of Honourable Members. I quote:

A person who uses a generic number or owns or intends to use a SIM card for voice telephony services shall register that generic number or SIM card with any electronic communications licensee or with the distributor, agent or dealer of the electronic communications licensee, authorized to provide or sell generic numbers or SIM cards.” End of quote

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, in keeping with this law, the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA), which is the implementing agency of Government on this matter, directed that registration of sim cards be carried out from January 1 to March 31st, 2018.

4.0 AWARENESS
Meanwhile Government has embarked on an awareness campaign to sensitize and mobilize the public to go and register their sim card. In this vein, therefore, the House is being requested to join in the awareness campaign. Let us all ask members of our constituencies to register their sim cards. Let us tell them it is the requirement of the law that we, as their representatives, passed.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, the House may wish to be informed that before implementation of the ongoing registration exercise, MACRA has been discussing with phone operators for the past two years regarding the issue of sim card registration.

The registration process therefore is proceeding on the basis of a collective consensus by the stakeholders.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, in sensitizing the public and members of our constituencies, let us inform them that it is important to register their sim cards because:

  • The process will help law enforcers track criminals who use   phones for illegal activities
  • It will prevent sim boxing activities on networks where fraudsters by-pass the international gateway and divert calls to look like they were originating from a local number. This robs the country of its much needed forex.
  • The process will help curb negative incidents such as loss of phone through theft, hate text messages, threats, child trafficking or incitement of violence or extremization and radicalization of our youth by extremists.

5.0 FEARS
Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, let me take this opportunity to allay fears that some quarters may have that registration of sim cards is a ploy by Government to eavesdrop in people’s conversations.
Far from it. Infact, Government is not involved in the actual registration of the sim cards. Let me emphasize, we are not. The responsibility of Government, through MACRA, is simply to see to it that provisions of the law, which the House passed, are enforced.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, let the public be informed, accordingly, that it is not the executive but this House that passed the law, with the provisions that sim cards should be registered. Further, let the public know that, infact, other countries have been doing this for years.
Malawi is the only country where sim cards were not registered. Those who have travelled either in the western world, United Kingdom, United Stated of America e.t.c.  In Africa, South Africa, Ethiopia, Botswana and the SADC all register sim card.  Therefore our registration of sim card is within our own legal requirement but also most important keeping pace with the globe trends in the communication sector.

Because Government is not involved, the actual registration is being done by telecom operators. This is the reason Honourable Members will have noticed that it is them who are giving guidance to their customers on where they should go for registration.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, it should be noted that many countries in Africa have either completed this task or are in the process of registering existing subscribers. No new subscriber can access their networks before registration of a sim card.

It therefore is my appeal to everyone, including Honourable Members of this House, using phone services in this country to ensure that they register before 31st of March, 2018.
Let us lead by example.

Right Honourable Mr. Speaker, Sir, thank you for your attention

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