Tanzania's government has joined the growing trend for countries to require all PrePay SIM cards to be registered with the network operators, citing the usual reasons of crime and terrorism. The Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, Prof. Peter Msolla, said the government would soon table a bill in the National Assembly for the establishment of a Central Equipment Identification Register (CEIR).
Prof. Msolla also said the new technology would help the police trace people who use mobile phone handsets to issue threats to victims either through phone calls or text messages.
The minister made the announcement at a one-day seminar on communications services held in Iringa. There have been concerns expressed that the government could use the ability to track messages to clamp down on opposition politicians.
Last November, Tanzania's Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Director General, John Nkomasays said that he expects the number of mobile phone users in the country will jump by 25% to 13 million by the middle of this year. Typically, when SIM registration is introduced, the number of recorded subscribers drops noticably.
According to figures from the Mobile World subscriber tracker, the country ended last year with just under 12.6 million customers - representing a population penetration level of 32%.