SOURCE: BILL E. DIGGS
It is amazing how promos in the media blow round in the public with a rhetorical rhythm that cause people to dance to what businesses and government want them to hear. The sensation of registering the System Identification Module (SIM) cards to provide “security” is an example of such promos that may be considered an embattled initiative.
Why has the registration of SIM Cards become an embattled initiative by both the Government of Liberia and local GSM companies?
You may recall that the feathering call made by the Liberia Telecommunication Authority (LTA) to GSM companies to have SIM cards registered in the country was aimed at curbing criminal activities that could have been carried out by unscrupulous individuals for selfish reasons, but has bee defeated.
Despite LTA’s call to the GSM companies, and the rigorous SIM cards’ registration that happened in the country in the latter months of 2012, there tend to be more unregistered SIM cards on the market as it was before the registration. This led me to the question whether the instructions to have SIM cards registered have become a document on the shelves consumed by dust as many other papers are presumed to be in Liberia.
LTA is a government entity responsible to regulate the affairs of all the telecommunication providers in the country via GSM services and other specialized networks they offer to their customers.
It is quite unfortunate to note that unregistered SIM cards of some highly respected GSM gurus in the country have been used in a schemed that caused the Government of Liberia a whopping US$9. 6m deficit between the periods of July 2012 to June 2013.
God knows how much more money the government has lost which has not yet claimed the attention of government. I think it is about time that the LTA becomes sterner in ensuring that GSM companies obey the status quo.
In recent times, four Nigerians were arrested for using SIM card equipment that has manipulated the LTA’s regulatory switchboard to terminate and receive international calls to and from Liberia without leaving a trace.
When the suspects were grilled they stated that, while operating their devious business, they purchased fifty SIM cards and daily load them into their SIM box destroying the SIMs after a day’s transaction. What would have been a good business of GSM companies to government has now become a swindle of a US$9. 6m to government.
For a country like Liberia, which operates a cash-based budget, US$9. 6m lost to hackers is a mammoth loss because the country’s economy is still struggling to support economically its about 3.5 million population.
Though the damaged has already been done to the country’s telecom industry, I think, the alleged criminal act by those accused Nigerians have created an enlightenment on how GSM companies in the country have violated the moratorium given to them by the LTA to have all SIM cards operative in the country to be registered to a user before it can be used.
It is about time that the LTA double check what is done by GSM companies in Liberia to curb criminal acts that would cause a potential loss to the country such as that lost of a US$9. 6m hacked by those supposedly devious Nigerians.
The issue of those Nigerians busted using unregistered SIM cards to perfect their scheme speaks a volume. One, the GSM companies are not abiding by the registration of SIM cards; two, the LTA is not providing proper oversight over the companies as regards their activities, and three, there could be a whole lot more hackers that are milking the nation’s much needed finances by using the same means attributed to those four Nigerians.
Be-as-it-may, it would be better if the LTA can prevail on GSM Companies in the country to sell their SIM cards only in locations, where it can be registered instantly after purchase to keep track of the registration of SIM Cards, rather than leaving it in the hands of street vendors to generate income for the entity.