“SIM registration a mess- GYZ”: A Response

Daily Nation Logo“SIM registration a mess- GYZ” is what reads in today’s publication of the Daily Nation newspaper. We have a few issues with some of the claims made in the article which we feel are necessary to air. A summary of the article states that, Gallant Youth in Zambia (GYZ)has dubbed the recently concluded SIM registration exercise a mess due to poor planning. The GYZ Executive Director, Henry Mulenga, claims that there was very little public awareness from ZICTA over the registration process, which was to blame for the low response from the members of the public.

The first issue we wish to address is the lack of public awareness claim. We strongly feel that credit must be given where credit is due. There is no denying that ZICTA played their role in sensitising the public about the necessity of SIM registration. They actually employed an “in-your-face” type of approach where the public was being reminded to register their SIMs every single day since the beginning of October. The papers had a visible count down well in advance before the initial deadline. Even the telecommunication companies tried their best to notify clients to register their SIM cards albeit not urgently at first. On the other hand, it can be said that the significance of SIM registration was never highlighted to the customers. The emphasis was more on the business aspect of telecoms and the new Know Your Customer (KYC) policy than the benefit to the customer, aside from keeping your phone number.

This weakness in showing value to the customer for registering their SIM cards is what could have led to low response from the public, especially for those in the rural areas. Apathy is a common reaction to mobilisation exercises, like voting for example. If people don’t see the value in something ¬†or fail to anticipate the direct change to their lives, then what is the point of bothering with anything at all?

The planning process is indeed questionable considering the deadline extension. Additionally, the newest inconsistency is the warning from ZICTA to mobile service providers that, “failure to deactivate unregistered SIM cards after the expiry of the registration deadline is tantamount to abrogating the law.” Aren’t these guys on the same team or are we (the public) missing something? One would think that they hold round table discussions over mutual issues like this… oh well!

According to Transport, Communications, Works and Supply Minister, Yamfwa Mukanga, as at December 30, 2013, 6.8 million subscribers had registered their SIM cards out of a mobile phone service subscriber base of 10.3 million. Prior to registration the telecoms market share of mobile subscribers stood at these approximate figures: Airtel Zambia- 4.6 million; MTN Zambia- 4.5 million; and Zamtel- 1.4 million. With this in mind, we can safely assume that the numbers will drop significantly although we are yet to discover by how much. Furthermore, the telecoms have not been forthcoming with statistics of how many successfully registered customers are on board because it is apparently ZICTA’s prerogative to officially announce the numbers.

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