Zambia To Capture Mobile Users’ Biometrics

The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has introduced regulations to collect facial biometric information from mobile phone customers. ZICTA argues that the collection of biometric data is necessary to improve security and prevent fraud. ZICTA is concerned that unregistered SIM cards are widely used in criminal activities. The regulations will be in force from midnight 31 March 2020.

Zamtel (the state-owned telecoms company) is on a drive to collect mobile subscribers’ biometrics in compliance with ZICTA’s directive. Zamtel warns that the deadline will be strictly enforced, and non-compliant individuals will have their SIM cards deregistered. Compliant subscribers will be rewarded with 1GB data/ or airtime on updating their information. In 2019 the Zambian authorities captured millions of Zambian’s biometric data as part of its “Know Your Customer” initiative to register SIM cards. The government also announced that it is currently investigating the use of biometric information to prevent fraud in the disbursement of social welfare grants.

The regulations also require mobile network operators to conduct frequent SIM card verification exercises and provide ZICTA with reports on deregistered