Following the rolling out of the sim card registration exercise by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra), through mobile service providers in the country, consumers have mixed views.
The exercise, according to Macra, is aimed at protecting phone users from cyber criminals, who use unregistered sim cards to swindle innocent people.
However, random interviews conducted in Blantyre show that consumers have different views on the exercise.
Richard Chingwalu from Ndirande alleged that the exercise is meant to benefit the government during the fourth-coming general elections.
“I don’t understand why we have to register our sim cards. Recently, we were told to register for the Mzika exercise. We are afraid that the information will be used to rig elections,” he said.
Another mobile phone user, Maria Pensulo, said it is only proper for service providers to go out into communities and register their customers.
She said the registration exercise is consuming a lot of time; hence, the need for more outlets.
“Let the companies invest in this exercise by sending their people out into the communities to do the registration, rather than asking us to go to their offices to register.
“The whole exercise is cumbersome and it is improper for us to be queuing for hours just to have our sim cards registered,” Pensulo said.
She further said, if the service providers are not willing to invest in the exercise, consumers are willing to go back to the old ways of sending messages through ordinary mails.
Bernard Macheso, however, welcomed the development, saying the exercise would benefit mobile phone users.
Macheso said the only challenge is that consumers were not sensitised enough on the exercise.
“This is a good initiative as phone users will be protected from various abuses. Those that have travelled across the globe will agree with me that, in other countries, it is not easy to get a sim card. The process may take a week or so, especially for foreigners.
“As Malawi, we also need these tough regulations in order to protect the consumer,” he said.
The sim registration exercise, which started two weeks ago, is expected to end on March 31 2018.