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African telcos urged to prioritize SIM registration for national security

The Head of Product Development and Operations at Itemate Solutions, Tracey van Heerde, has emphasized the critical importance of prioritizing SIM registration among African telecom companies to enhance national security.

Recent regulatory changes and changing consumer habits pose significant challenges for telecom companies across Africa, Van Heerde explained in a statement.

In Nigeria, millions of subscribers have recently experienced service disruptions due to non-compliance issues, while Cameroon is experiencing delays in issuing ID cards, complicating SIM card registration processes.

“In Cameroon, delays in issuing ID cards have created challenges for telecom companies in registering SIM cards as users wait for government-issued IDs.”

She highlighted the potential risks faced by telecom companies, including fines and sanctions for non-compliance with regulations.

However, Van Heerde pointed out that technologies such as eSIMs and SIM registration apps provide solutions to streamline the registration process and improve Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.

“SIM registration is crucial for national security and promotes the adoption of new services,” Van Heerde emphasized.

“Telco companies must prioritize SIM registration to strengthen national security, expand their service offerings and grow their customer base.”

The regulatory environment in Africa remains complex, with examples such as Tanzania imposing fines on mobile operators in 2016 for irregularities in SIM card activation and Gambia imposing fines in 2019 for non-compliance with SIM card registration rules.

Recognizing the challenges facing the sector, Van Heerde noted recent calls from Ralph Mupita of MTN Group to harmonize regulatory frameworks, especially in the technology sector.

She emphasized that while telecom companies are under regulatory pressure, they are also looking to expand their customer base and diversify into non-traditional services such as financial products and insurance.

“Mobile phones are essential communications tools for Africa’s 1.3 billion citizens, underscoring the need for governments to accurately identify mobile numbers for security and research purposes,” Van Heerde added.

She emphasized that improving KYC practices allows telecom companies to better understand their customers, driving personalized service and revenue growth.

To address these challenges and meet strategic objectives, telecom companies are exploring innovative approaches to simplify SIM registration processes, Van Heerde said.

She noted that advanced solutions such as eSIM technology and mobile registration apps aim to streamline registrations, particularly benefiting rural populations, where access to physical registration centers may be limited.

Collaboration with experienced service providers such as Itemate Solutions is critical for telecom companies to navigate the regulatory complexities and ensure seamless access to telecommunications services in various African markets.