MACRA making positive strides in SIM cards and mobile gadgets registration process

* So far, the Central Equipment Identification Registry (CEIR) has been connected to Airtel and TNM networks

* The consultation for the SIM cards Regulations was completed which will bring a new layer of cyber crime security

By Ernest Mfunya, MANA

Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) Director General, Daud Suleman says they are making positive strides in the implementation of the Central Equipment Identification Registry (CEIR), which is meant to register all mobile gadgets and SIM cards in the country.


During a mobile money fraud prevention task force meeting on Wednesday in Mangochi — which comprised MACRA, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, mobile service providers, Zomba Prison Service, among others — Suleman said once completed, CEIR will protect the public from online theft and fraud.

Suleman added that MACRA has so far connected the system to Airtel and TNM networks and completed the consultation for the SIM cards Regulations which will bring a new layer of cyber crime security in the country.

He attributed the positive strides in the implementation of the CEIR system to the collaboration from network operators that include TNM and Airtel as well as other mobile money operators.

MACRA DG Daud Suleman

The stakeholders at the meeting

Suleman further said the Authority, together with the Ministry of Information & Digitalisation, is working on five new laws that are aimed at providing proper legal safeguards to Malawians.

On his part, chairperson for the mobile money fraud prevention task force, Khumbo Phiri commended MACRA for the development, citing that the system will enhance arrest of scammers, thereby helping to reduce cases of fraud in the country.

“This is a welcome development as the system will support the registration of all SIM cards and mobile gadgets, a development that will assist to curb mobile money fraud as it will help us to know where the fraudsters are and the gadgets they use.

“Before the coming in of the system, we were unable to register mobile gadgets, a development that provided loophole for fraudsters to beat the system without us identifying them,” he said.


The technological advancement also brought with it a proliferation in the cases of cybercrime, especially mobile money fraud, more especially during the CoVID-19 pandemic which saw an increase in the usage of IT.

Thus, as mandated by the Electronic Transactions and Cybersecurity Act, 2016 and the Communications Act, 2016, MACRA rolled out measures to counter the mobile money fraud that include enhancement of mandatory SIM card registration; development of SIM card registration regulations and the CEIR.

MACRA also developed some cyber security rules and regulations as well as formulating a mobile money task force with the Malawi Police Service, National Registration Bureau, mobile network operators and Malawi Prisons.


Malawi Prisons was specifically included because the majority of the money fraud is being perpetrated by prisoners — with the suspicions of a collaboration with prison wardens — who facilitate multiple SIM cards for the inmates which are used through one handset.

Thus the provision of having handsets meant for a newly-bought SIM card to be required to be registered as well that include a replacement of a handset thereafter.


In an interview with Malawi News Agency (MANA) in September, MACRA spokesperson, Wezzie Nkhoma-Somba said the CEIR system is also to curtail problems of rampant theft of mobile devices in the country.

She added that the system will provide all privacy as it stores and utilizes International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEls) that identify the actual handset worldwide not Sim card numbers and all transactions in the Sim card are under the privacy and security policies of mobile network operator.

She, therefore, said it is only upon receipt of a report from a subscriber or the Malawi Police Service that CEIR will be invoked to trace, block and blacklist the mobile device linked to the report using its IMEI.

Nkhoma-Somba argued the public to register for CEIR assuring that it will enhance security of mobile phone users and that of their handsets.—Additional reporting by Maravi Express