The Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has launched a SIM card registration exercise to be completed by February 2021. Officials have described the exercise as the beginning of a difficult process towards regulation, but a milestone for the country.
The Authority has signed an agreement with the National Identity Registry (NIR) and the country’s two mobile phone operators, LoneStar Cell MTN and Orange Liberia, to ensure that from November 2020, all SIM cards are registered using the national identity card.
The LTA said it will monitor the SIM registration process, the NIR will issue identity cards and operators will ensure that they comply with national ID card-based registration.
Officials have warned that any SIM card not registered within the given period will be suspended or blocked.
Liberia’s government believes SIM card registration will improve national security, provide a platform for the efficient functioning of other electronic communication services (including mobile money transfer) and create a reliable database for subscribers.
Edwina Crump Zackpah, the acting chairperson of the LTA said: “We all know that there are a lot of crimes that are committed using a cellphone and one of the first places that the police will go when investigating a crime is a cellphone. You may never know who committed such a crime if the SIM card they are investigating is not registered. So this is a milestone for the country.”
NIR executive director Tiah Gagbe said the SIM card registration exercise is the beginning of a difficulty journey to implement regulation, but will result in efficiency and transparency on the part of the LTA in regulating the telecommunications industry.
Gagbe said: “SIM cards registration is a very important thing in the world today for government and people that manage telecommunication services to know who is behind the scene. SIM card telecommunication is a very valuable technology but the same way it can be used for a lot of good, it can also be used for a lot of evil and therefore it is important to manage it in a responsible way.”
According to the latest Digital 2020 report, there were 4.13 million mobile phone connections in Liberia in January 2020, equivalent to 83% of the total population.