Source: Global Voices
By Amanda Lichtenstein
Tanzanian citizens have until January 20, 2020, to register their SIM cards through the new biometric registration system launched by the Tanzanian Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA) on May 1, 2019.
The biometric SIM card registration process means Tanzania joins a growing list of African nations gripped by the biometric data and digital identification revolution. The TCRA said biometric registration will help control cybercrime and fraudulent mobile phone abuse, among other reasons.
In previous years, Tanzanian citizens were required to show their telecom provider a voting card, drivers’ license or passport to register SIM cards, pre- and post-paid. But those without documentation could typically register using the documentation of friends or relatives, according to Samuel Kabulo, a Tanzanian citizen who lives in Dar es Salaam, and spoke with Global Voices via Whatsapp.
Now, in order to activate pre- and post-paid SIM cards, over 21.7 million mobile phone users in Tanzania must first register with the National Identification Authority (NIDA), which requires all citizens to provide fingerprints and proof of identity as part of the registration process.
To complete the biometric SIM card registration process, users must then go to a local service provider, show their NIDA card or number, get their thumbprint taken — and that information is then shared, vetted and confirmed through the NIDA system.
Those who do not register using the biometric system will be locked out of their SIM cards on January 20, and will not be able to make or receive phone calls or text messages. The new registration process also ensures that each user only registers one SIM card per network.