Cellphone companies to bleed N$16m due to late SIM card registration

Telecom Namibia (TN) and Mobile Telecommunications Company (MTC) say they will lose close to a combined N$16 million monthly after suspending about 520 000 subscribers this week.

These subscribers failed to meet the deadline to register their SIM cards on 31 March.

TN suspended about 200 000 SIM cards, while MTC suspended about 323 000.

In a statement, MTC spokesperson Tim Ekandjo said: “Unregistered customers (323 236) contribute approximately 3,1% of revenue, translating to an average of N$8,1 million in revenue per month.

“Despite our best efforts, we have encountered challenges in finalising the registration process for all customers, as previously communicated to the authority – such as the geographical vastness of our country among other socio-economic conditions, which have made it impossible for some members of the public to register on time.”

He said the emphasis is, however, on registering suspended numbers so that they could remain in use.

“The suspension does not mean their numbers are deactivated. It simply means a suspended number would not be able to utilise any services for the interim, until they comply to the SIM registration process,” Ekandjo said.

This ‘grace period’ is to last for 90 days from 1 April to 1 July, or as otherwise decided.

Meanwhile, TN yesterday told Desert Radio it expects a loss of between N$6,3 million and N$8,6 million a month due to the deregistration of close to 200 000 SIM cards.

TN chief executive Stanley Shanapinda said these are the figures they are most concerned about.

He highlighted the massive number of people who have been standing outside service provider outlets for the past couple of days.

Shanapinda said as a result, TN has opted to extend its operating hours once again, as well as utilise extra personnel, which includes a higher intake of interns.

“We had to call back a few people to come and assist our customers. We also had to increase our intake of students . . . We had to extend office hours and that’s another overtime cost,” he said.

Shanapinda said the 191 000 SIM cards which have been deregistered is disappointing, considering the company’s campaigning efforts.

“It’s not satisfactory. We already started two years ago to make the process as simple as possible. We were hoping to be at 90%, but we understand the logistical challenges of our customers.

“We tried to send our teams out as far as possible. We could not go all over the country – we would have needed more time and resources,” he said.

Shanapinda said TN partnered with post offices in areas where it does not have a presence, to enable customers to register their SIM cards.

He further told Desert Radio TN will be monitoring how many people register their SIM cards in April.

“We will keep up our efforts for April at least and see how the number is coming down. We will evaluate and if we are not satisfied, we will double up on our efforts,” he said.

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