Sunday, 17 March 2013

Unregistered roaming SIM cards to be deactivated

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Youth and ICT Minister Jean Philbert Nsengimana (R) with RURA Director General at the launch of SIM card registration last month.
People living in the diaspora who own SIM cards issued by Rwanda-based telecom operators will face disconnection if they don’t register their SIM cards before the time limit, says the Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (RURA).

Those to be affected include among others, students studying abroad, diplomats and members of the business community.

The ongoing registration of the cards is expected to list over five million SIM cards by July 31, 2013, after which the ones that will not have been registered will be deactivated and disconnected off their telecommunication networks.

“Rwandans living in countries that have a roaming agreement with their home network will either come back to Rwanda to register their SIM cards or choose to give their numbers to friends and families to be registered in their names,” Jean Baptiste Mutabazi, RURA’s head of Communication and Media Regulation told The New Times on Thursday.

“If they fail to meet the deadline, their SIM cards will be disconnected and will only be restored once they have been registered”.

Rwandan telecom networks MTN, Tigo, and Airtel allow subscribers to use their Rwandan phone numbers when travelling in some countries.

According to Norman Munyampundu, the MTN Rwanda senior customer operations manager, they are in talks with RURA on how to register roaming SIM cards without the owners coming back physically.

“It’s a challenge, but it’s the reason why RURA gave people a period of six months to have registered their SIM cards so that even those ones in the Diaspora can get time to come back and participate in the exercise,” he added.

“As operators, we think that there should be another option of facilitating people living outside Rwanda to register their SIM Cards at places of their convenience because it’s not easy to come from Canada, Belgium and UK for just SIM card registration.”

Munyampundu stated that when registering SIM cards, the most important thing is to physically check their Identification (ID) Numbers and they are working out a plan to verify people’ ID numbers through the embassy officials in their respective countries.

However, he explained that they did not have the figures regarding roaming SIMs because it’s difficult to determine since people are always on the move in several countries.

The exercise has seen over 2.5 million SIM Cards registered within a period of one month.

Latest statistics from RURA indicate that of a population of 10.5 million, a total of 5, 902, 630 have access to a mobile phone.

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