19 February 2013

Rwanda: Parliamentarians Register SIM Cards

The SIM registration mechanism which kicked of recently in the country reached lawmakers yesterday with both senators and deputies registering their cards. Headed by the MTN's CEO Khaled Mikkawi, agents from the three operational telecommunication companies were present in parliament for the exercise.

Only 5 senators were able to register their SIM card due to the fact that the remaining 21 have were on field visits or had accompanied the president of the republic in his tour to the Southern province.

Having registered his own SIM card, senate president Jean-Damascene Ntawukuliryayo said that citizens shouldn't be misled by false information about the program. "The SIM card registration mechanism was not introduced to allow security services to listen to private conversations, it is rather a protection mechanism which make it easier to track criminals."

Ntawukuliryayo added that providing one's identity while registering makes it easier to know who owns which phone number. "This could also help, through legal provisions, in case of crime prepared through those channels, to apprehend easily those responsible."

According to MTN's Mikkawi, among the over 3.5 million MTN subscribers, so far over 1.2 million have had their SIM cards registered. "For those who are already registered, now we are doing the verification process to see if there were not some of them who registered using false information or fake identities."

Mikkawi said that choosing parliament for registration was due to its role in the country's leadership, and its influence on citizens. "This is the high level of legislation in the country's leadership. It's the country's legislature. They have a big influence on communities which is why having them registering their SIM cards means a lot to people who didn't trust the mechanism," he said.

SIM card registration kicked off on February 3 and will last for six months. Unregistered cards will be blocked after July 31.

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