Tuesday December 12, 2017

East Africa: Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan Readies to Stem Crime via Phones

People use mobile phones in Nairobi, Kenya. There are about 700m sim cards in Africa. Photograph: Simon Maina/AFP/Getty Images

DAILY NATION – Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan have now moved closer to firming a common SIM card registration system as they move to curb rising crimes perpetrated through mobile devices.

Regulators and information communication and technology ministers of the four countries met on Thursday to harmonise the different legal and regulatory frameworks for SIM card registration.

“The harmonised framework will help tackle fraud likely to be experienced as the countries strive to collectively realise financial inclusions for their citizens,” Joseph Tiampati, Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Principal Secretary said.


A joint statement that brought the discussions into play, signed by Kenya’s ICT Secretary Fred Matiang’i, Uganda’s John Nasasira, Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana of Rwanda and South Sudan’s Rebecca Joshua Okwachi, states that the four governments would interconnect their national identification (ID) systems.

Communications Authority Director- General Francis Wangusi said the ID cards will then be linked to SIM cards of mobile users as in the case of Kenya.

In the new arrangement, Uganda for instance, will recognise a Kenyan registered SIM card from its end and trace the owner in case it is used to commit crime.

Plans for cross-border SIM card harmonisation are part of the One Network Area agreement by the four countries where voice has been harmonised. Data, mobile money and SMS are in progress.

According to Uganda Communications Commission Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi, Ugandans had no national IDs as plans for harmonisation were first brought into play in 2013. Kenya leads in the SIM card registration.

In 2013, millions of unregistered subscribers were switched off from the local networks and stringent measures put in place to penalise operators for unregistered SIM cards.

Rwanda and South Sudan are also tightening their SIM registration regulations to make them seamless across the borders.


Ali Sadig Farah

A Political correspondent for The Upper Nile Times based in Khartoum, Sudan


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