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The Rise of African SIM Registration: The Emerging Dynamics of Regulatory Change

Donovan, K. and Martin, A. 2014. “The Rise of African SIM Registration: The Emerging Dynamics of Regulatory Change.” First Monday 19, 1-2 (February).

41 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2012 Last revised: 13 Feb 2014

Kevin Donovan

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor; University of Cape Town (UCT)

Aaron Martin

Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford

Date Written: November 7, 2012

Abstract

The African experience with mobile telephony has been extolled as a defining moment in the continent's contemporary economic, social, and political development. Yet SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) registration schemes are threatening to throttle the technology’s developmental potential. These mandates, which require the registration of identity information to activate a mobile SIM card, are fast becoming universal in Africa, with little to no public debate about the wider social or political effects. Whereas some authors have explored the motivations behind these drives, as well as their potential economic impacts, this paper focuses its critique on the broader diversity of implications of this regulatory transformation. Viewing SIM registration through a lens that surveillance studies and information & communication technologies for development, it examines elements of resistance across a range of actors, as well as other emerging effects like access barriers, linkages to financialization, and Africa’s budding mobile surveillance society.

Keywords: Africa, development, financial inclusion, ICT4D, identification, identity, mobile telephony, resistance, surveillance

Suggested Citation

Donovan, Kevin and Martin, Aaron, The Rise of African SIM Registration: The Emerging Dynamics of Regulatory Change (November 7, 2012). Donovan, K. and Martin, A. 2014. “The Rise of African SIM Registration: The Emerging Dynamics of Regulatory Change.” First Monday 19, 1-2 (February).. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2172283 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2172283

Kevin Donovan (Contact Author)

University of Michigan at Ann Arbor ( email )

Ann Arbor, MI 48109
United States

University of Cape Town (UCT) ( email )

Private Bag X3
Rondebosch, 7701
South Africa

Aaron Martin

Global Cyber Security Capacity Centre, Oxford Martin School, University of Oxford ( email )

Old Indian Institute
34 Broad Street
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 3BD
United Kingdom

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