Monrovia — SIM cards owners in Liberia will now have to obtain a National Identification Card or stand the risk of being temporarily blocked by GSM operators on the orders of the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA).
On Friday, the Liberia telecommunication Authority (LTA), the National Identification Registry (NIR) and the two Telephone operators (Lone-Star MTN &Orange Liberia) have signed agreed in a memorandum of Understanding that of November 2020 everyone who has a Sim Card of any of the GSM must have a National Identification Card.
In the MOU, the four parties also agreed that anyone who does not take advantage of the process within the giving period their services will be temporarily suspended as a way of encouraging them to register by using their National ID.
Also, In the MOU, the LTA which is the Government Telecommunication regulatory entity will monitor the process, the National Identification Registry will implement along with the two GSM mobile operating companies.
Madam Ewdina Crump Zackpah is the acting chairperson of the LTA, in her remarks she said, the SIM/ RUIM Card Registration system will help government fight crimes by identifying people who commit crimes.
Madam Zackpah said: "If you have a National ID card you need to go to your telephone operator to register or re-register. The duration of the pilot project is three months. In February, we will evaluate what we have been doing. What is expected is that everybody with a National ID card will have to reach out to their service providers.
"If you don't register and wait till the deadline passes they may suspend your line to encourage you to do so. The significance is that the impact will be felt by everyone. If the sim card we used in Liberia are not register properly you may never know who committed certain crime."
Mr. J. Tiah Nagbe is the Executive Director of the National Identification Registry, in his remarks he stressed the importance of the SIM/ RUIM Card Registration system. In his words, the launch of the project is the beginning of a difficult journey which is the implementation of the revised SIM/RUIM card regulation.
Under this arrangement it is expected that the NIR will enroll about one Million citizens and residents in over 3,000 locations across Liberia of the next one year a target that is ten times what the NIR has been able to achieve in a given year according to Nagbe.
Nagbe said: "It is a very important thing in the world today for government and people that manage telecommunication services to know who is behind the scene. Sim card telecommunication is a very valuable technology today in the world and the same way it can be used for lot of good it can be used for lot of evil therefore it is important to manage it in a responsible way.
"This program will solve the age-old problem of Liberians not knowing who are behind the sim cards by. December 31 of 2021, everyone who has a sim card is someone who has a National ID card. Under this program before anyone obtain a sim card he or she has to carry their National ID card."
In the words of the NIR Executive Director, the newly launch project will also mean efficiency and transparency in regulating the sector as well as potential revenue increase from deeper penetration of mobile services.