Over 900,000 subscribers could have their sim cards switched off

Over 900,000 sim-cards could be deregistered as the new sim-card reguation takes effect. Nadege Imbabazi.

As the deadline to comply with the new sim card regulations draws near, Rwanda Utilities and Regulatory Authority (RURA) has said that an estimated 10 per cent of subscribers may be affected.

The new regulations on ownership of simcards was announced by RURA last week requires nationals and foreign residents to have a maximum of three sim cards on each network.

Patrick Nyirishema, the Director General of RURA, said at a news conference on Tuesday that part of the total subscribers from the two telecommunication companies operating in the country could be affected.

“We are working real time with the operators (MTN and Airtel-Tigo), but right now, potentially about 10 per cent of subscribers, we think, will be affected,” he said.

As of December 2018, both MTN and Airtel had a combined 9.7 million subscribers.

This means that at least 900,000 sim cards will be de-registered by Friday.

Foreigners with passports, on the other hand, are allowed only one sim card.

The utility regulator set January 31 as the last day to comply with the new regulations.

For the past week, telecom companies have been facilitating holders of more than three sim-cards on each network to carry out personal de-registration, but different users have expressed concerns over system shutdown.

RURA said the temporary system shutdown has been caused by a lot of traffic, and that the utility regulator has been working with telecoms to improve the system.

“There are different reasons that might cause the system shutdown. Sometimes when there are too many requests during the day and so many people are trying to do it at the same time, the system can slow down,” Nyirishema explained.

He added that they have been working with operators and the National Identification Agency to minimise and mitigate these cases, and that the experience has gradually been improving.