In recent years, fraud and cybercrime via mobile have developed in the African digital space. Several countries on the continent have already put in place processes to combat this scourge. Lesotho wants to follow in their footsteps.
Lesotho mobile operators will have to start registering their subscribers’ SIM cards from June 24. The operation, which will extend over a period of twelve months, is provided for by the “ Communications (Subscriber Identity Module Registration) Regulations 2021 ”.
Vodacom Lesotho and Econet Lesotho, the two main telecommunications companies in the country have declared that they are ready to start operation on the scheduled date. “ We have contributed to what has now been enacted into law and would like to advise our customers that we are ready to begin registration on the date indicated. We will start with the piloting process which will be to ensure that the processes and devices we have procured are efficient to start rolling out registration across the country ,” said Mohale Ralebitso, Managing Director of Vodacom Lesotho .
Telecom operators will use national identification and civil registration to identify customers during the operation. For company SIM cards, a proxy person will be chosen per company for the registrations. SIM cards that are not registered at the end of the process will be removed from the network service provider’s system and decommissioned.
In December 2021, both Houses of Parliament approved the Citizens’ SIM Registration Bill in Lesotho, after initially rejecting it in order to conduct further “consultations with various stakeholders” . Since then, network operators have multiplied investments to ensure the smooth running of this operation. Vodacom claims to have already invested 8.1 million USD to prepare for the launch of the operation. These funds were used, among other things, for the recruitment of new staff members and the purchase of the devices.
Lesotho will join several African countries such as Kenya and Nigeria, which have developed and implemented telecom subscriber registration policies. South Africa is currently preparing a similar process. These initiatives reflect the ambition of governments to combat the upsurge in cybercrime cases across the continent.
The registration of SIM cards is of strategic importance for the operators and the nation in that it will allow them to know “ that a certain telephone number belongs to a certain individual and that he is certainly the sole owner ”, in order to avoid cases of sim boxing, financial scam, kidnapping, terrorism and related crimes.