Mozambique pushes for SIM card registration, raising privacy concerns

23 August 2019


mCel, is one of Mozambique's three mobile operators ordered by the government to register SIM cards.

Mozambique is pushing for the registration of prepaid SIM cards despite concerns related to privacy and the measure's potential interference with election monitoring efforts.

On 28 June 2019, the Mozambican Communications Authority (ARECOM), a public entity that regulates the postal and telecommunications sectors and manages the radio frequency spectrum, launched a 10-day ultimatum for operators to urgently register all users of prepaid SIM cards. According to the newspaper O País:

In three letters sent by the Mozambican Communications Authority to Vodacom, TmCel and Movitel, the regulator accused the mobile operators of violating the regulations for registration and activation of the SIM card subscriber identification modules, approved by Decree No. 18/2015, of August 28.

In the letters, the regulator issued five notes to the operators, through complaints from customers and the Defense and Security Forces that there are unregistered and/or irregularly registered SIM cards in the market.

   1-Block all unregistered and irregularly registered numbers within 10 days from the date of receipt of this letter, according to the Article 6 (a) and (b) of the above mentioned Regulation.

   2 – Ensure compliance with Article 11 (1) which stipulates that “operators and providers of public telecommunications services, as well as sales agents or distributors are authorized to register SIM cards”.

   3 – Collect all SIM cards that are outside the official establishments of the operators, agents and distributors, because they are not under the conditions set out in paragraph 2 of the regulation.

   4- Block all numbers that violate the recommended in paragraph 3 of article 10, of the above mentioned legislation.

 5- Inform subscribers to regularize their situations.

This push dates back to 2010 when the government led by then-President Armando Guebuza approved a ministerial decree that required users of mobile phones to register their SIM cards within a month. Read the full article on Global Voices Online here.