Zambia has Achieved 50% SIM Registration

As we near the end of the SIM registration period for Zambia, we have heard via Times of Zambia online, that only 50 percent of SIM cards have successfully registered since inception.

The story quotes ZICTA PR, who say that only about 5 million customers across the three networks have registered.

Furthermore, the Deputy Minister of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Panji Kaunda, said only 5,360,093 have registered their SIM cards out of the 10,343,527 subscribers on the three networks – MTN, Airtel and Zamtel. Col. Kaunda said MTN has registered 2,590,737, Airtel has 2,166,667 recorded and Zamtel has 606,689.
He urged the media to continue sensitising the public on the importance of SIM card registration, especially subscribers in rural areas.

Total Base* Registered % Achieved Implied Market Share (%)
Airtel Zambia 4,646,092 2,166,667 47% 45%
MTN Zambia 4,446,399 2,590,737 58% 43%
Zamtel 1,251,036 602,689 48% 12%
10,343,527 5,360,093

Our take: The activity was marred by apathy from customers on one hand and inconsistencies in processes for Mobile Operators , on the other. We hope, they Regulator will make the decision on whether or not the exercise has captured the required customers, and we can move on to other things, as this will also give us a fresh start in terms of measuring accurately the customer numbers for each network.

The total of over 10 Million SIM cards, that are being referred to maybe active or not (within the 90 day period from last used day for a billable activity). What we hope to see is how each of the Operators manages their stock these numbers to retain their valid subscriptions, and more importantly, those numbers that they would rather not lose (yes, the ones that make them money)!

Sad though is the Deputy Minister’s thoughts:

Col Kaunda said Zambia is among the 48 countries in Africa that is carrying out this exercise because it is a very important one and it is not meant for governments to know what everyone is doing.

In the wake of hyped media scrutiny and complaints from Lobbyist globally for reduced Surveillance on citizens, the Minister certainly sounds like we shall now be definitely watched. He is either living in a pre-Snowden era, or he has no idea why the exercise is being carried out from a political/policy perspective, clearly his visit to Egypt that necessitated him getting a SIM card meant he has a long way to go in understanding mobile connectivity. A Minister who has never heard of Roaming, is making decisions on what to do with all the numbers/SIM cards that will not be registered. We need help!

The market should also benefit from improved customer information, including own operator analytics for Marketing, and customers’ now being able to retain ownership of unique numbers that are registered to them as individuals or businesses, upon presentation of valid ID(s).