JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN — South Sudan’s Ministry of Telecommunications this week pushed back the deadline for mobile phone users to register their SIM cards or lose access to their phones, after few turned out for the registration effort.
“We all agreed to extend the SIM card registration until the 28th of February. While I say this, I would urge all subscribers, South Sudanese and non-South Sudanese, to register,” Deputy Minister for Telecommunications Beatrice Khamisa said.
The South Sudanese government last year ordered that all mobile phone users register their SIM cards, citing security reasons.
Thursday’s delay was the second in as many months. Mobile phone users were originally given until December 31, 2012 to register their SIM cards, but that was pushed back by one month to January 31, 2013 after low compliance with the government-mandated registration.
Khamisa said some government ministries were adamant that the deadline not be pushed back a second time.
But the Ministry of Telecommunications argued for another extension, saying that mobile phones are the only connection to the outside world for many South Sudanese, especially those who live in remote areas.
“During our discussion some participants demanded that we stop extending the registration date. But we thought the telephone in South Sudan is the main source of communication. Business is done over telephone, including social interaction -- especially when we don’t have land lines and post offices are not operating efficiently,” Khamisa said.
Mobile operators will work with the ministry to publicize the registration campaign and its new deadline, to make sure as many people as possible register by the end of February.
The new deadline is absolute, Khamisa insisted. Anyone who fails to register by February 28th will have their mobile phone service cut off.