South Africa’s mobile operators are expected to be granted a six-month reprieve by the government in their quest to register the SIM cards of their respective subscriber bases, reports Business Day. With just two weeks remaining of this year’s parliamentary session, an appeal is believed to have been lodged to postpone the deadline for mandatory SIM card registration from the end of 2010 until June 2011. Justice department spokesman Tlali Tlali confirmed that parliament ‘will deal with this bill urgently’.
The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) is aimed at cracking down on mobile phone-related criminal activity. Any unregistered SIM cards are scheduled to be cut off by the end of the year. Whilst Vodacom claims to have registered 70% of its 20.8-million subscribers, neither MTN or Cell C have shared details of their respective SIM registration campaigns. In February this year it was reported that 524,618 national ID books remained unclaimed at the Department of Home Affairs, meaning that their owners would be unable to register their SIM cards without them. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, as at June 2010 South Africa was home to 44.9 million wireless subscribers, of whom 46.4% belonged to Vodacom.