Bor — South Sudan has begun a process of registering all telephone subscriber identity module (SIM) cards in use in the nation in order to track those responsible for issuing threat using mobile phones.
The decision to conduct the nation-wide registration was taken by South Sudan's cabinet in 2011 before the country seceded from Sudan. The registration only began in some parts of South Sudan in December 2012 as it took over a year to separate the country's new network from Sudan's.
On Saturday South Sudan's deputy minister for Telecommunication and Postal Services, Betrics Khamisa, launched the SIM card registration in Jonglei state, which he said would be closed by the end of February.
In a launching ceremony attended by more more 300 people, Khamisa told mobile users to register before the end of the month, warning them their SIM cards would be deactivated if they were not registered before the 28 February deadline.
The minister said that registering mobile phones was needed so that the government could identify users who were using the phones to coordinate crimes such as "cattle rustling, child abduction."
She urged the public not to fear the move as the "government is trying to protect them" from calls that may be threatening.
The four telecoms companies that operate in Jonglei - Gemtel, Vivecell, Zain and MTN - say there are more than 660,000 users registered in Jonglei. In 2010 it was estimated that 1,443,500 people live in Jonglei, which is South Sudan's largest state.
Mobile operators say that are committed to improve networks in ease mobile communication in remote areas of South Sudan.
Jonglei's minister of information and communication, Hussein Maar Nyuot, urged people to turnout to register in large numbers within the time frame.
"We must finish our registration before the end of the month", said Maar, who is also Jonglei state's deputy governor.
Jonglei state governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, has long argued that infrastructure is essential in in order for the government to deliver services, for economic development and to inable companies to invest in the state.
Manyang said his government is looking for foreign companies to build more roads in the state.