Friday August 2 2013

Rwanda switches off unregistered SIM cards

By Agencies

The Rwandan government has switched off a total of 485,867 mobile telephone subscribers for failure to register their Subscriber Identity Module cards, commonly known as SIM cards.

The SIM card registration exercise in Rwanda kicked off in February 2013 and was supposed to come to an end on July 31.

The campaign is a prerequisite to regional integration under the East African Community.

According to the statistics from the Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority, a total of 6,110,138 SIM cards were registered, representing 92.6 per cent of the total mobile subscription base in the country.

The Rwandan government however says the registration exercise can continue for those people who have had their cell phones disconnected.

Yvonne Makolo, the MTN Rwanda Chief Marketing Officer, says those who have been disconnected are only barred from receiving or making calls and can have their SIM cards reactivated after they register.

Makolo however, says the customers have only 90 days to have their SIM cards reactivated or risk having the cards removed from the network.

According to Pierre Kayitana, the public relations manager at Tigo, one of the mobile telephone operators in Rwanda, the exercise was smooth. He says the company had registered at least 96 per cent of its 1.9 million subscribers by the end of the registration exercise.

Airtel registered 94 per cent of its 953,949 clients, while the largest telecom provider, MTN, registered 90 per cent of its 3.6 million SIM cards.

Kenya is the only country in East Africa that has fully completed the exercise.

More than 2.4 million unregistered SIM cards were early this year disconnected by Kenya’s four mobile phone operators.

In Uganda SIM registration is scheduled to end on August 31.