Tanzania Restricts Number of SIMs per Customer

SIM card registration in Tanzania is set to become more stringent with new rules announced by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA). In addition to biometric registration, now customers will be limited to one line per operator.

TCRA’s Communications Manager says:

If you have an extra line on one operator, you need to write an explanation about it to continue using it as otherwise it is punishable by law

Telcos are required to notify customers with more than the allowed number of SIM cards. The customers should respond indicating which lines should remain active. If the customer does not respond, all the lines will be deactivated. To cater for machine-to-machine traffic, a customer will be allowed to have a maximum of four lines per operator.

Non-compliance will be met with strict punishment. This could be a fine of not less than USD 2,200 or imprisonment for a term not less than 12 months or both. In addition for each day that the SIM card was used, a daily fine of USD 32 will apply.

It is not clear which risk being addressed. If a customer has registered all the lines in his possession using the approved KYC process and biometrics, why should the state be so concerned to the extent that the person must also provide written justification to TCRA? The administrative headache hardly appears to be the best use of TCRA’s time. I do not even want to get into the debate about machine-to-machine communications using four SIM cards, purely because I do not want to pepper this piece with a few choice expletives.

Let us just say that this will present yet another opportunity to harass telecom operators as non-compliance by customers will be held against C-level executives.

Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu
Joseph Nderitu is a director at Integrated Risk Services Ltd and specializes in revenue assurance. He previously worked as Head of Revenue Assurance and Fraud Management at Vodacom's operation in Tanzania, having previously served in the same role at Vodacom Mozambique.

Before his work with Vodacom, Joseph was an internal audit manager for Airtel, with responsibility that covered their 17 countries in Africa. Whilst at Airtel, Joseph led reviews of the Revenue Assurance, Customer Service and Sales & Marketing functions.

Prior to his stint at Airtel, Joseph was an RA manager at Safaricom in Kenya. He holds an MSc Degree in Information Systems.