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Phone registration to commence 2023

SULEMAN —That gadget will not work

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has disclosed that it will start registering phones from January 2023 as one way of countering mobile money fraud in the country.

Macra said processes to acquire a Central Equipment Identification Registry (CEIR) to be used for the exercise are at an advanced stage.

Macra Director- General Daud Suleman said this in Rumphi during an engagement the regulator had with District Executive Committee members on the postcodes for all areas in the country which were gazetted in 2019.

Participants, who included chiefs and ward councillors, were also oriented on the National Address System project.

Suleman said through the phone registration system, Macra will also be able to block stolen and counterfeit phones.

According to Macra, fraudsters use multiple Sim cards on a single handset to dupe people and mobile money fraud is an emerging serious issue that could frustrate efforts to digitise the country’s economy.

“Hopefully, before the end of this year, we will get [the CEIR]. This is a system that is used to register handsets. Therefore, if a handset is stolen, you report it and it gets blacklisted on this system.

If a gadget was reported stolen from another country, when it comes to Malawi, that gadget will not work. If a handset is coming from a grey market, it is a fake handset which does not pass the minimum standards, using this platform that handset will not work,” Suleman said.

He added that the more people stay away from digital payments systems, the harder it would be for the country to reach a digital economy status.

Malawi Prison Service spokesperson Chimwemwe Shaba recently said processes to procure security gadgets to install in its major prisons across the country to counter mobile money fraud were at an advanced stage.

The move by the prison department comes following a 2021 report by the Reserve Bank of Malawi which indicated that 90 percent of mobile fraud cases emanate from prisons.

Commenting on the $19 million National Address System, Suleman said having piloted the project in all the cities of the country, Macra will soon roll out the second phase. Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe described the system as progressive saying once the exercise rolls out in his area, his subjects will lead in protecting it against vandalism which was reportedly observed during the pilot phase.

The aim of the system is to assign and allocate physical addresses to all residents in the country through property or house numbering and street naming.

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