Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


Tanzania Cracks Down on Unregistered SIMs

Article Image
Tanzania's telecoms regulator has blocked access for over 650,000 mobile users for failing to meet a deadline to register their SIM cards biometrically, according to a report by The East African.

This after the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) ordered all operators to switch off non-biometrically registered phone lines as of January 20, 2020.

In late December 2019 Tanzanian President John Magufuli extended the deadline for biometric registration of SIM cards, which had originally been set for December 31, 2019.

But by Monday night 656,091 mobile users had still failed to register and were locked out, the newspaper said. James Kilaba, the director general of the TCRA, told state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation that the locking out of unregistered SIMs will be done in phases. He said another 318,950 phone users risked being locked out in the second phase.

Tanzania's mobile subscribers totaled 44.8 million by the end of last September, according to the latest statistics shared by the TCRA. (See Tanzania Adds 1 Million Mobile Subs in Q3.)

650,000 mobile users in Tanzania did not meet a deadline to register their SIM cards biometrically.
650,000 mobile users in Tanzania did not meet a deadline to register their SIM cards biometrically.

Vodacom Tanzania confirmed on Wednesday morning that 157,000 of its customers had been barred from accessing services after failing to register their SIM cards biometrically. Vodacom has over 14.1 million customers in Tanzania and is the biggest mobile operator in the country, according to the TCRA's stats, with a 33% market share. Airtel follows with 26.6% market share and then Tigo with 26.1%.

Vodacom Tanzania's MD Hisham Hendi said in an emailed statement that the operator's shops in major towns will continue to stay open for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in order to accommodate customers who want to biometrically register their lines in order to continue using Vodacom services -- including mobile money transfer service M-Pesa.

Hendi said the registration process will help reduce the number of fraudsters, as every use can be identified by one's unique fingerprints: "Using unique fingerprints will ensure that everyone is known, thus making it easier to combat conmen in our community," he noted.

Tanzania is among a number of African nations -- including Uganda, Nigeria, Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo -- that have been running SIM card registration drives during the past few years to try curb criminal activities associated with unregistered SIMs.

Biometrics are becoming increasingly used as a Know Your Customer (KYC) tool for keeping fraudsters out of customer bases.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub


Safaricom launches M-Pesa 'super app'

Safaricom has launched its long-awaited M-Pesa 'super app' with new features like offline mode as well as mini-apps within the app.


Hot startup of the month: Nigeria's Bankly

Nigerian startup Bankly is digitizing cash for people who work in the informal sector and helping unbanked Nigerians save money, invest and gain access to credit and other financial services.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: May 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context and analysis about new licenses for operators in Ethiopia and Uganda, and Nigeria's 5G rollout plans.


Omdia View: April 2021

By Omdia Analysts

This month, Omdia's analysts provide context around Ethiopia's telecoms licensing process, Millicom's plans to exit Tanzania and Ghana, and Airtel Africa's successful capital raise.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

AfricaCom perspectives


Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.


Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.


How Poa Internet is unlocking meaningful connectivity in East Africa

Poa Internet's CEO Andy Halsall shares his views on what it takes to develop last-mile connectivity and get Africans online in a meaningful way.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

North Africa Com
July 13-14, 2021
Virtual Event
Asia Tech x Singapore
July 13-16, 2021
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Africa Tech Festival
November 8-12, 2021
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Flash poll

All polls

Archived webinars

Technologies and business models to connect the next billion

Nearly half the planet remains unconnected at a time when COVID-19 has forced people’s reliance on the Internet and digital technologies higher than ever before. Bridging the digital divide to provide Mobile Internet access – the main driver of digital inclusion – is exceedingly important in the current context. Overcoming this connectivity crisis represents a growth opportunity for Mobile Network Operators (MNO) to expand their services outside of the crowded, highly competitive urban markets.

In this webinar we will focus on solutions that help MNOs close both the coverage gap and the usage gap.

Key topics include:

  • What are the barriers to overcome increased Mobile Internet adoption?
  • How to match deployments cost with expected revenue?
  • Operator success story

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up