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Tanzania slaps six operators with hefty SIM registration fines

Tanzania slaps six operators with hefty SIM registration fines

The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has imposed fines amounting to millions of Tanzanian shillings on six mobile network operators for alleged failure to comply with SIM card registration regulations.

TCRA announced the findings of its investigation carried out in December 2016 and the penalties it has imposed on Friday 14 July 2017.

James Kilaba, Director General at TCRA says all the operators sanctioned have exactly three months - until 14 October 2017 - to pay the fines.

"Operators involved in the investigation were Airtel (T) Ltd, Benson Informatics Ltd (trading as SMART), MIC (T) Ltd (trading as Tigo), Vodacom Tanzania PLC, Zanzibar Telecom Ltd (ZANTEL), and Viettel Tanzania Limited (trading as Halotel)," said Kilaba.

He added that the Regulator discovered various SIM card related breaches including the sale and registration of SIM cards without the mandatory required owner's identity cards, registering SIM cards with unauthorised identity cards and registering SIM cards without taking photos of subscribers.

Repeat offences

TCRA says the operators are guilty of repeated offences as they had been fined for malpractice in SIM cards registration exactly a year ago. At that time they were ordered to de-activate all unregistered SIM cards in the market and implement e-registration of SIM cards and full electronic know your customer (EKYC) processes by 30 November 2016.

The Regulator said acts of malpractice in SIM card registration "threaten, intimidate and puts the public security in jeopardy."

"Having considered licensee's defence, both oral and written submissions, the circumstances and nature of the matters patterning to the SIM card malpractices; and considering that it is not the first time the Licensees are fined for SIM card registration malpractices; TCRA has ordered service providers to pay fines," Kilaba added.

Airtel Tanzania Limited has been ordered to pay TZS 1,085,000,000 as well as an additional TZS 542,500,000 fine for repeat offences.

Benson Informatics Limited (trading as Smart) has been fined TZS. 75,000,000 which will be combined with the fine of TZS 37,500,000 for failure to comply with previous orders from TCRA regarding SIM card registration.

MIC Tanzania Limited (trading as Tigo) has been fined TZS 1,305,000,000 as well as an additional TZS 652,500,000 for repeat offences.

Vodacom Tanzania Limited will have to fork out TZS 945,000,000 as well as TZS 472,500,000 for repeat offences, according to TCRA.

Zanzibar Telecom Limited (trading as Zantel) and Viettel Tanzania Limited (trading as Halotel) will pay – TZS 105,000,000 and TZS 1,645,000,000 respectively for the latest contraventions, in addition to TZS 52,500,000 and TZS 822,500,000 each for repeated failure to comply with SIM card registration laws.

All the operators have also been ordered to by the TCRA to pay a further TZS 500,000,000 "for compromising and endangering public security."

Regulatory industry analysts predicted that 2017 would be an even more challenging year for Africa's regulatory landscape following a tumultuous year in 2016.

In a report by the Brookings Africa Growth Initiative Professor Njuguna S. Ndung'u, Kenyan economist and former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya called for regulators to exercise good judgment this year, as countries like Uganda embark on their own SIM card registration projects.

"A regulatory approach and a regulatory environment that will encourage innovation and entrepreneurship is what African economies should strive to achieve in 2017 but also work on the pitfalls that can disrupt the process that will kill innovativeness and broad-based growth across sectors."advised Prof Ndung'u.

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