Anxiety as D-day for SIM card listing nears

Sunday January 19 2020
pic simcard

Dar es Salaam. Stories of despair and last minute struggle have dominated as the D-day approaches tomorrow for mobile phone users whose SIM-cards haven’t been registered biometrically.

A resident of Mbezi Luis says she failed to get the National Identification Number (NIN) from the National Identification Authority (NIDA) due to long queues. She is looking for an alternative so secure her communication as she continues battling with the long and tedious procedures of getting her ID.

“I have decided to register using my mother’s ID so I can remain on air while I continue to search for an ID,” she told The Citizen ahead of the deadline which was extended from December 31 last year to January 20 this year after President John Magufuli’s extension offer.

However, the lady, who asked not to be named fearing legal measures, admits that the delay in getting NIN was due to her negligence and she does not have to blame anyone.

As President Magufuli’s deadline extension comes to an end, those who haven’t been registered are struggling against the odds to avoid being taken off air.

Out of over 47 million subscribers, only 42 per percent had been registered by December last year, says the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). Initially, the SIM card biometric registration exercise which started in May.

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A Dar es Salaam resident who preferred to remain anonymous said, “This registration has brought a lot of good things for me. There are people whom I have charged Sh30,000 to register their SIM cards using my ID.”

Others have given up. They will wait until they find a NIN so that they can register.

“It will be very hard for me while I am waiting to get the number but no choice rather than accept the reality,” said a resident at Tabata Relini Mr Shaban Chaurembo.

He said it has been frustrating to obtain a NIN. “You arrive at the registration centre earlier in the morning and stay in the queue but until even your documents doesn’t reach to immigration desk.”

Mr Chaurembo admitted that biometric registering is very vital but there is a huge challenge in finding the Nida’s number but the government must admits that this area has failed.

A fish trader in Moshi town, Kilimanjaro Region Mr Ramadhan Besha said he had informed his customers not to send him any money via mobile phone because he was not sure if he could register before tomorrow.

“I am tired with Nida I couldn’t find a NIN until now. My customers asked me to deliver fish and then after a while they pay me through mobile money. I had to tell them not to send money via my Sim card,” he said

A resident at Moshi town, Mr Andrew Herbert, says the closing of mobile phone SIM card for people who are not registered biometrically, will affect many by being out of communications because he is aware of many people in business who wont make it on the deadline.

On Friday economic experts told The Citizen that switching off Sim card would adversely affect financial services and by extension government companies and individuals’ revenue.

“It will be hard for people to communicate. As it is economic and trading activities will be hurt,” warned an economist from Mzumbe University Prof Honest Ngowi. Financial service expert Bosco Simba cautioned that social business communication, among stakeholders would be affected and eventually causing losses.

“A phone is used as a major means of payment for various transactions. This suggests that by locking out phone users, telcos and government will lose in terms of revenues,” warned Mr Simba. University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) economist Dr Abel Kinyondo said the impact of switching off Sim cards would touch not only phone users, but the entire value chain in the service.

Dr Kinyondo said should the number of mobile phone users go down, people would lose jobs. “More financial transactions are conducted through mobile phones than banks.

Through the phone one can deposit, withdraw and borrow money. So switching off would be a blow to the public,” he stressed.