Yet another country has mandated SIM registration and set a deadline after which unregistered subscribers may be penalised. This time it's Mauritania, where the authorities are pushing for a process that will involve biometric data in the interests, they say, of enhancing national security and a government drive to combat increasing mobile fraud.
Mobile service users in the country have until 6 October to register their SIMs, a deadline set by the country’s regulator the Autorité de Régulation Multisectorielle (ARE), which has noted that efforts so far deployed to combat illicit practices in the sale and transfer of SIM cards have not yielded the expected results.
If users do not comply with the measure by the set date they will have their subscriptions suspended.
As in a number of other countries, the process of SIM card registration will involve SIM users presenting a valid ID at a commercial branch of one of the country’s operators. As we reported in April 2022, most voice and data services are carried over the mobile networks maintained by Moov Mauritel, Mattel and Chinguitel.
The process will also involve recording the biometric data of individuals. In fact Ecofin Agency notes that Mauritania has 6.5 million active telecom users (the official population estimate is about 4.6 million) and says the push for registration aligns with the implementation of Decision No. 0038 by the National Regulatory Council (CNR), which stipulates that the sale of SIM cards by telecom operators will be conducted exclusively through biometric identification of the buyer.
SIM registration deadlines have proved hard to enforce in some parts of Africa in recent years, although Mauritania does have a much smaller population than Ghana or Nigeria where the deadline for SIM registration was pushed back several times.