The country’s Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has set September 30, 2018 as the new date for existing phone users to register Sim cards and generic numbers or risk being blocked.

Speaking at a press briefing in Blantyre on Friday, Macra officials said, from July 1 this year, all new Sim cards will have to be registered within a maximum period of seven days from the date of purchase.

“When all subscriber details have been provided, the Sim card will be activated even before the seven days elapse. But if this has not been satisfied within the seven days, the Sim card will no longer be useful and the customer will need to buy another one and start the process all over again,” said Macra’s Director General, Godfrey Itaye.

Itaye said mobile service providers have indicated that at least 40 percent of phone users in the country have registered their Sim cards.

TNM Chief Officer of Consumer Services, Daniel Makata, said, so far, about 1. 5 million users on TNM network have been registered.

“It was quite a chaotic process when we were starting. So, we became more innovative by bringing the registration (staff) closer to the people. We became faster and more people were registered. For the past months, about 40 percent of our consumers have been registered, That is roughly about 1.5 million people,” he said.

Macra issued a directive to all phone operators in the country to start the registration of Sim cards and generic numbers in January this year in a drive aimed at effectively regulating the information communication technology industry.

This was in accordance with requirements of the Communications Act of 2016.

Itaye said Sim card registration has multiple benefits, saying, for example, that people who send threats and hate messages will easily be traced.

“The process will also enable law enforcers to track down criminals who use phones for illegal activities. The process will also reduce cases of child trafficking as police will be able to track perpetrators, not to mention that lost phones will easily be located,” he said.

After the exercise was launched in January, the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology suspended the process due to a public outcry over deadline of registration, which was March 31 2018.

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