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Subscribers in SIM registration race against time


Seabata Mahao

As the January 31 deadline fast approaches, mobile network subscribers are in a rush to register their SIM cards to avoid disconnection.

The mandatory SIM registration process, initiated in June 2022 under the Communications Subscriber Identity Module Regulations of 2021, aims to enhance national security, prevent illegal activities, and protect citizens.

The deadline, extended to June 2023, is swiftly approaching.

Network operators are actively encouraging their subscribers to adhere to these regulations to prevent any service interruptions.

Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) says it has nearly completed its registration process, with a 97 per cent success rate so far.

Puleng ‘Mathabo Masoabi, ETL’s Public Relations and Customer Experience Manager, emphasised the urgency.

“Time is of the essence, and individuals must act promptly to register their SIM cards and adhere to government’s regulations. By doing so, they play a crucial role in fortifying national security, protecting personal information, and maintaining the integrity of Econet as a leading Mobile Network Operator in Lesotho.”

Masoabi highlighting the company’s adherence to the regulations said, “As a telecommunications company, ETL is bound by the Communications Subscriber Identity Module Regulations of 2021 to suspend services for unregistered SIM cards post deadline. The imminent SIM card registration deadline is a call to action that demands the attention of all our ETL customers.”

Vodacom Lesotho has on the other hand reported about 75 per cent registration rate, and is also pushing for full compliance.

Tšepo Ntaopane, the Executive Head of Regulatory and External Affairs, said over 1,407,409 million SIM cards out of a total of 1,866,558 subscriber base have been successfully registered since the commencement of the registration process.

“Although this is a substantial achievement, our goal is to ensure the registration of every SIM card and client on our base,” he said.

Ntaopane indicated that any unregistered SIM cards were potential revenue loss.

“Mocha-O-Chele, Data, and M-Pesa in the financial services arm of the business are the pillars of our business and the income generated from these services drives our business. Any unregistered SIM card, which uses both GSM services (voice and Data) and M-Pesa is a potential revenue loss on our side, and we must register every SIM on our base for customers to continue to access communications services, mobile money services as well as important messages from banks such as OTPs.

“The potential will affect the company’s profitability and the contribution that we make through company income taxes that we contribute to the state as well as what we contribute towards reinvestment into the network and other social initiatives,” Ntaopane explained.

He said they were ready to comply with the cutoff time unless otherwise directed by these authorities.

He stressed it is critical that every Mosotho registers their SIM card before the deadline and utilise all available registration channels including the e-channel that allows registration via email channel.

Both network operators have faced challenges in the registration process, such as subscribers lacking valid IDs or birth certificates, especially for minors and those living outside Lesotho.

They also had challenges traversing the length and breadth of the country to bring these services as close as possible to Basotho, particularly in the rural areas, which meant mobile network operators had to invest heavily to ensure the registration of their customers.

The process was also challenged by individuals who flatly refused to register their SIM cards in line with the Regulations citing concerns over the violation of their privacy, despite similar KYC requirements being mandatory within the financial services sector.

 At the height of the process, The National Identity and Civil Registry System was at times overwhelmed by the sheer volumes but this has since stabilized to accommodate smoother registrations.

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