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Tanzania: Country Moves to Curb Mobile Phone Crimes

Discussion in 'Habari na Hoja mchanganyiko' started by MaxShimba, Jul 8, 2009.

  1. MaxShimba

    MaxShimba JF-Expert Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    Joined: Apr 11, 2008
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    Want to carry your mobile phone on your next trip to Tanzania?

    You must register with service providers, for the country has made it mandatory for all SIM card owners to be enrolled in a national data centre.

    Tanzania, which has 17 million subscribers, hopes the new requirement -- a process which it says will take six months to complete --will give the war on crime fresh impetus.

    Foreign mobile phone owners visiting Tanzania will have to register them with service providers as Tanzania starts to enforce the newly enacted law.

    The government launched the SIM card registration process last week.

    In Kenya, leading operator Safaricom says it could take three years to register all SIM cards were such a law to be adopted.

    There is an attempt by the regulator, Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), to introduce such regulation.

    However, operators say the move would work against universal communication access principals and add to the cost of SIM cards as vendors would have to invest on data capturing equipment.

    Businessmen and organisations with a regional presence that require their staff to be on the move will be the most affected by the Tanzanian move.

    "Any attempt to register in-bound roamers will have significant impact on forex inflows owing to muted use of roaming facility occasioned by newly introduced bureaucracies that affect tourism and travel in to Kenya by foreigners.

    "At great risk are regional services such as Safaricom's Kama Kawaida," said Safaricom chief executive, Mr Michael Joseph. There is also Zain's One Network that allows subscribers to call at the same rate across borders.

    Mobile phone use has witnessed phenomenal growth in East Africa with con artistes cashing in on the trend to extort money from some subscribers.

    Often, they cheat the subscribers that they have won presents and should send money through the mobile money transfer system to help them (criminals) to process the presents or money.

    There have also been cases where people have been abducted, with their tormentors using mobile phones to demand ransoms from relatives or friends.

    Just like Tanzania, CCK and the government have given security as the reason for the plan to introduce such a law.

    In Brazil, SIM cards are registered using national identity cards for citizens and passports for foreigners. The same documents are used in India.

    In Senegal, SIM cards are registered using different means of identification including passports, driving licences, bank cards, etc. In the Philippines a mechanism is in place to register SIM cards without using the national identity card.

    However, there is a law in place for regulating the sale and/or disposal of pre-paid SIM cards.
    In South Africa, a legal framework for phone equipment and SIM card registration exists. Safaricom says it is not opposed to such an initiative.

    However, the firm prefers more consultation on the issue.

    "We favour a measured approach to legislation that will balance the public interest as far as the preservation of security is concerned, the protection of privacy, and the maintenance of sound commercial incentives to foster the growth of mobile telephony," said Mr Joseph.

    Safaricom suggests that specific legislation should be enacted on the issue as opposed to piecemeal amendment of relevant law