The Tanzanian government enacted The Electronic and Postal Communications (Sim Card Registration) Regulations, 2020, to address the issue of electronic offenses and crimes. Before this regulation, it was not mandatory to conduct full SIM Card registration, and citizens bought as many SIM cards as they wanted. However, the new regulation made it compulsory for individuals in need of SIM Cards in Tanzania to undergo biometric SIM Card Registration for SIM Card recognition, such that it identifies the owner of a particular SIM Card.
Under the regulation, every Tanzanian citizen who wishes to own a detachable SIM Card, built-in SIM Card mobile telephone, or SIM-enabled mobile communication equipment or device must register their SIM Card. Registration is done through the Biometric SIM Card registration category, where an individual must present their National Identification Number (NIDA) to the service provider, and the service provider conducts online or electronic fingerprint verification for registration.
The regulation also limits the number of SIM Cards an individual or company can own. An individual can own one SIM Card for use on voice, short message, and data services and up to four SIM Cards for machine-to-machine communication. Meanwhile, a company can have up to 30 SIM Cards from each mobile network for voice, short messaging, and data services, and up to 50 SIM Cards for machine-to-machine communication.
In cases where individuals have defaced fingerprints or no fingers, they can still register for a SIM Card. These individuals can issue the service provider with their NIDA identity for registration, and the service provider shall request NIDA to provide clearance for defaced SIM Card registration. Upon clearance, NIDA will provide multiple questions for verification, and the service provider will prompt the customer to answer at least 2/3 questions correctly for successful registration.
The regulation also imposes penalties for those who contravene the rules. Individuals possessing more than the required number of SIM Cards shall face a fine of not less than five million Tanzanian shillings or imprisonment for a term not less than twelve months or both. Companies that contravene the regulations shall face a fine of not less than fifty million Tanzanian shillings.
In summary, the laws regarding SIM Card Registration in Tanzania require every individual to register their SIM Cards with their NIDA Identity, and it is an offense to use a SIM Card that is not registered under your NIDA Identity. The regulation is necessary to curb electronic offenses and crimes in Tanzania and ensure that SIM Cards are correctly attributed to their respective owners.
By Assia Ridhiwan Mwanga
The author is an associate at Trill & Associates Advocates.