ICT Association of Malawi (Ictam) has warned the government to tread carefully when implementing the SIM card portability in the country, saying it could increase the cost of telecommunication services and cause unnecessary disruptions.
SIM or mobile number portability enables mobile phone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one network carrier to another.
This follows revelation that the government is targeting the first quarter of 2023 to have the technology up and running.
Speaking when issuing a licence to a new mobile phone service operator in Blantyre, Minister of Information and Digitalisation Gospel Kazako said the development will enhance competition and ensure quality products to customers.
“Number portability is something that we are planning seriously and we hope that by the end of the first quarter in 2023, this will be rolled out. We want Malawians to have a wide range of products to choose from and not be deterred from having one network number,” Kazako said.
But in an interview on Monday, Ictam President Bram Fudzulani said while the development is welcome, it should not be implemented in haste.
He said there are a lot of changes that need to happen on the part of service providers, such as maintaining a unique identifier number database that can allow people to move from one network to the other.
“That cannot just happen overnight. It would require some serious investments in the sector and most of the time such costs are transferred to the consumers so we are monitoring how this is going to be implemented, which will inform whether this is a development we are ready to embrace now or not,” Fudzulani said.