Mozambique’s two mobile phone operators, mCel and Vodacom Mozambique, have reportedly entered into negotiations with the Mozambique Post Office to use its facilities to assist with the ongoing statutory registration of pre-paid SIM cards. In an interview with Maputo daily newspaper Noticias, Luis Rigo, chairperson of the Post Office board confirmed that his company has been approached by both operators for the use of its services; Post Offices exist in most of the country’s 128 districts. However, although the Post Office has a far larger network than either mCel or Vodacom, it is not present in every district, and not all of its branches are equipped to carry out the government-endorsed registration process. Rigo confirmed that the Post Office was currently investigating how many of its branches possess the minimum requirements to carry out the registration, namely: electricity, a photocopier and paper. Last week independent newspaper Mediafax reported a thriving black market trade in outlying internet cafes charging anxious mobile phone subscribers USD1 to register their details online; the majority of the population currently live on less than USD1 per day.
As previously reported in CommsUpdate, users of pre-paid mobile phones in Mozambique have until 15 November to register their SIM cards, with those users who fail to meet the deadline having their SIM cards ‘blocked’. The push for SIM card registration comes in the wake of widespread riots in Maputo and Matola in September over a 30% rise in bread prices; the riots were reportedly co-ordinated by a widespread text message campaign. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Mozambique reported a total of 5.56 million subscribers at end-June 2010. Neither mCel or Vodacom have revealed how many subscribers they have managed to register thus far.