Togo restricts the issuance of SIM cards

Togo’s Telecom Regulatory Authority prohibits residents from having more than three SIM cards per network operator. Since there are only two mobile network operators in the West African country, this means that each resident can have a maximum of six SIM cards. All SIM cards must already be registered by name. Soon the state would even like to record all citizens biometrically.

The regulatory authority ARCEP presents the SIM card restriction as a “security measure” with which “one combats the evils that are connected with the use of cell phones”. she calls “Theft, fraud, identity presumption and harassment” as examples.

Anyone in Togo who already has more than three SIM cards from a network operator must reduce the number to three within six months. The authority asks the network operators for help. The restriction does not apply to companies.

The also West African country Nigeria even completely banned the issue of new SIM cards in December. As a justification, the government referred to kidnappers who had contacted relatives of the victims via anonymous SIM cards in order to extort a ransom. Although SIM cards must be registered by name and assigned to the national identity number of a Nigerian, there is apparently a flourishing black market in already registered SIM cards.

The radical ban on issuing new SIM cards turned out to be a particular burden for victims of crimes such as pickpocketing and robbery because replacement SIM cards were only available on the black market. Entrepreneurs who were suddenly no longer available complained of significant sales losses. Only in March did Nigeria allow the replacement of lost, stolen or broken SIM cards in licensed exchange centers; In April, the SIM issue ban was completely lifted.

In Africa, the parallel use of several SIM cards is widespread because it helps to save money and means better network coverage. Mobile phones usually have at least two SIM card slots. “Every adult Nigerian has at least two cell phones with four SIM cards,” wrote the Nigerian daily This Daily in April. According to the report it is customary in the country to simply buy a new telephone number if a SIM card is lost and to inform contact persons about it. This is much easier and quicker than proving legitimate possession of the previous phone number.


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