No Sim card will be switched off: Lugola

Thursday November 14 2019

Home Affairs minister Kangi Lugola speaks in

Home Affairs minister Kangi Lugola speaks in Parliament in Dodoma yesterday. PHOTO | ANTHONY SIAME 

By Sharon Sauwa @TheCitizenTZ news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dodoma. Home Affairs minister Kangi Lugola has assured mobile phone users who will fail to register their Sim cards biometrically due to lack of national identification cards or numbers that they wouldn’t be disconnected from services.

Mr Lugola revealed this in Parliament yesterday after Kavuu lawmaker Prudensiana Kikwembe sought the National Assembly Speaker’s directive on the announcement by Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) that all Sim-cards, which would not have been registered biometrically would be switched off come January 1, 2020.

Dr Kikwembe argued that it would be unfair for the government to do so because the exercise to obtain national identification cards takes long, especially in rural areas.

“I need your directive Mr Speaker, we have been hearing adverts in the media that those, whose Sim cards wouldn’t be registered biometrically by the end of this year their phones will be switched off. We need to know the government position because we can see how difficult it is to obtain a national ID, especially in rural areas,” argued Dr Kikwembe.

Responding, Mr Lugola allayed the fear over switching off of such Sim cards come January 1, 2020.

Mr Lugola insisted that the registration process is an endless one since most Tanzanians have not obtained national identification cards.

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According to the minister so far only 15.5 million Tanzanians have obtained national identification numbers, while only 20.5 million mobile subscribers have been registered. TCRA plans to register 23.3 million subscribers by the end of the exercise.

The minister also directed the Nida management to create a mechanism from which people who have applied for national identification cards would easily obtain their numbers. Scores of people have been flocking to the Nida offices across the country in a rush to obtain national identification cards. Most of them are trying to obtain the cards so that they can biometrically register their Sim cards before the December 31 deadline set by TCRA.

For a mobile phone user to biometrically register his Sim card he has to either hold a national identification card or unique number issued by Nida.