Mobile operators in Mozambique are working to complete the registration of all SIM card users in the country by this weekend and are threatening to limit the services of customers who do not register their details. The government first ordered operators to carry out SIM card registration around five years ago, in response to a series of riots in Maputo which authorities said had been coordinated by mobile phone. The scheme was designed to avoid the use of cell phones for illegal activities. A number of deadlines for the process came and went, but in August this year the government passed a decree giving the phone companies 90 days to complete the registration of their clients. The final date for registration is tomorrow (28 November 2015), with the operators facing fines of up to MZN6 million (USD115,000) if they fail to respond. Nigerian operator MTN was recently handed a fine of NGN1.04 trillion (USD5.2 billion) for failing to disconnect around 5.1 million unregistered subscribers.
Mozambique’s three cellcos – mCel, Vodacom and Movitel – say they will be limiting the services of users who do not register their details in time, and eventually cutting services completely. According to a report from AllAfrica, by last month only around two-thirds of Mozambique’s 16 million mobile lines had been registered, though this was up from 43% back in February. The Minister of Transport and Communications Manuela Rebelo had previously labelled the task as ‘hopeless’.