Since 2017, telecom operators active in Congo have struggled to meet the commitments made to Arpce. The identity of a large part of mobile telephone subscribers remains unreliable. The regulator threatens to crack down if the situation continues.
The Regulatory Agency of Posts and Electronic Communications (Arpce) of Congo questioned the two mobile telephone operators MTN and Airtel, Monday, July 26, on various breaches of the regulations relating to the identification of telecom subscribers. These include, among other things, the continued sale of pre-identified SIM cards by resellers, the holding by a single subscriber of more than 6 SIM cards. MTN and Airtel are threatened with sanctions if they do not correct these shortcomings within the following month.
“The finding is alarming because on the surveys carried out in Brazzaville which has the highest identification rate well done, it emerges that 70% of SIM cards are well identified and 30% unfortunately have a bad identity. The big surprise is in Pointe-Noire and Dolisie where, out of 100% of the SIM cards purchased, none has been identified, ” lamented Louis-Marc Sakala, the general manager of Arpce, who met the managers of the two telecom companies.
Regarding the number of SIM cards to be held by a subscriber, the boss of the telecoms regulator also recalled ” that beyond the 6th SIM the customer must be called. In the event of no answer, the operator has the right to cut off all the numbers ”. He also stressed that ” all SIM cards that have more than 90 days of no activity should be automatically deactivated as required by law .”
The formal notice served to MTN and Airtel by the regulator is the result of the conclusions of its investigation carried out from May 18 to June 30, 2021 in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, Dolisie and Ouesso. An investigation which reveals that telecom operators are not respecting their commitments made during the meeting of October 19, 2017 with Arpce with the aim of cleaning up the telecoms sector. They made a commitment, among other things, to identify all their fixed and mobile points of sale, to make their authorized distributors aware of the issue linked to this sanitation, to limit the maximum number of SIMs for each individual to five.
For Arpce, the consequences linked to poor identification are becoming more and more complex. Several misidentified and unidentified SIM cards find themselves increasingly involved in reprehensible activities, including mobile money scams.