Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Resultado de imagem para MCELThe Mozambican government on Tuesday unveiled a new decree that will impose heavy fines on any mobile phone company that fails to register the users of its SIM cards.Attempts to register all SIM cards date back to the riots over price rises in September 2010, when 13 people died in clashes between rioters and the police. One of the ways people were mobilized for the riots was through mobile phone text messages. 
The authorities believed that those who used their mobile phones for criminal purposes could be tracked down if every SIM card was registered.The owners of mobile phone were given 60 days to register, and long queues built up outside some of the phone company offices. The companies warned that 60 days was too short a period to register several million SIM cards. So the deadline was extended – and then, as the memory of the riots faded, the matter dropped off the government’s agenda.Until this year, when it was revived by the new Minister of Transport and Communications, Carlos Mesquita. 
Resultado de imagem para MCELIn February, during a visit to the regulatory authority, the Mozambique National Communications Institute (INCM), Mesquita was angered to find that, despite the deadlines issued in 2010, less than half the SIM cards in the country had been registered.
Mesquita gave the phone companies a fresh deadline – they would have 30 days to complete a task they had not done in the previous four years.

Resultado de imagem para vodacomEstimates from 2014 are that there are around 12 million mobile phone subscribers in the country. If half of them were already registered, the three companies would have to register six million cards in 30 days - or 200,000 a day.Predictably, this was not done. 
Resultado de imagem para movitelMesquita’s deadline came and went and there was no sign of mass registration of SIM cards.Now the government is threatening the companies with fines. Summarising the new decree for reporters, the government spokesperson, Deputy Health Minister Mouzinho Saide said that any company which fails to register up to 100,000 of its subscribers would face fines of up to six million meticais (about 157,000 US dollars).Irregular registration could incur fines of four million meticais. Refusal to provide the authorities with information about the register of subscribers would be punished with a fine of three million meticais. Attempts to prevent monitoring of a company’s activities might lead to a fine of two million meticais.In the most serious cases, the government could suspend the activities of a phone company. While there are no plans to fine unregistered subscribers, they could find their numbers blocked, and thus would be unable to use their phones.Saide said the purpose of the decree is “to create a public and integrated data base which contains all phone numbers, and the associated information about the respective subscribers”.He believed this would “promote the responsible use of the SIM cards”.Among the recent criminal uses of SIM cards are the contacts made by kidnap gangs with the families of their victims in order to demand ransoms. The authorities hope that, if all SIM cards are registered, then the people making such anonymous threats and demands can be traced.The new decree will take effect after it has been published in the official gazette, the “Boletim da Republica”. Currently there are three mobile phone companies operating in Mozambique – the publicly owned m-Cel, the South African Vodacom, and Movitel, in which the main shareholder is the Vietnamese company, Viettel.

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