According to RURA, the process, delayed since 2011, hopes to register around 5.2 million SIM card holders from the country’s three present telcom players Airtel, Tigo and MTN in six months, meaning the telcos will have to register 28,000 customers daily if they have to beat the 180-day deadline.
"We started at the beginning of this month with test registration, but we shall launch the project officially on February 4," said RURA’s head of communications Jean Baptiste Mutabazi.
This will leave Burundi as the only country in East Africa yet to register its SIM card holders, with Kenya already having started the switchoff of all unregistered cards following the expiry of the deadline in December 2012 last year.
The SIM-card registration exercise, which is a requirement by the East Africa Communications Organization (EACO), is meant to curb crimes related to mobile phone usage, especially important with the advent of mobile money.
Rwanda is also in the process of switching off counterfeit handsets.