Confusion grows over Zambian SIM cut offs

By Edith Mwale, Lusaka, Zambia

The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) has contradicted the Zambian government over when the unregistered SIM cards will be de-activated.

Last week, the Zambian government through the deputy minister of Communications Col. Panji Kaunda said subscribers who will not have registered their SIM cards will have calling services suspended until they register. The Zambian government said it will give a grace period of up to February 2013 to subscribers who will not have registered their SIM cards to register their cards. During the grace period, subscribers who will not have registered their SIM cards will be allowed to be sending text messages only.

ZICTA has however, said it will stick to the December 31 deadline that that there will be no grace period given to subscribers who have failed to register their SIM cards.

ZICTA director general Margaret Mudenda has said the unregistered SIM cards will not be able to send out messages effective January 1, 2014.

Mudenda said December 31 remains the deadline for SIM card registration and that stating from January 1, 2014; the SMS system will not be working for all unregistered SIM cards.

“As far as we are concerned, the deadline for SIM card registration remains December 31 and effective January 1, the SMS system will not be working for all unregistered SIM cards,” Mudenda said.

The confusion comes in the backdrop of the three operators registering half the number of the country’s total subscribers.

Kaunda revealed that Zambia has a total of 10, 343, 527 subscribers but that only 5, 360, 093 SIM cards were registered as December 16, 2013.

If  ZICTA sticks to the December 31 deadline, some five million SIM cards will be de-activated and this will definitely affect mobile operator’s profit margins.

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