Telecommunications companies in Uganda have put a stop to the sale of SIM Cards following a directive from Uganda Communications Commission on cracking down unregistered users.
A statement from MTN Uganda ascertains that the company has ceased selling SIMCards until they obtain a direct access to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) database.
“MTN together with other telecommunications companies have been advised to immediately cease the sale of SIM cards through hawkers, street vendors, street agents and any other establishments that are not licensed by Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) or other municipal and town authorities,” the statement from MTN Uganda reads in part.
“As per this directive, MTN Uganda shall need to acquire and install card readers at its respective service centres to validate national identification information before the activation of a new SIM card. This information will be instantly verified electronically against the national data base maintained by NIRA,” the statement continues.
Meanwhile Airtel Uganda have also announced they will not sell SIM Cards albeit temporarily.
“Following the Directives issued by UCC in respect to the Sale, Registration and Replacement of SIM Cards, we notify our esteemed Customers, Distributors, Staff, Stakeholders and the general public, that Airtel Airtel Uganda has temporarily stopped the Sale of Airtel SIM Cards until further notice. This notice takes immediate effect,” a statement from Airtel Uganda reads.
‘Following a directive from Uganda Communications Commission, we wish to inform the public that sale/distribution of Simcards has been halted until the Commission establishes API connectivity with National Identification and Registration Authority for instant national identity verification.”
Last month cabinet directed the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to urgently institute an investigation aimed at ascertaining telecom companies whose customers are still using unregistered Simcards.
“All telecom operators are on notice, if they don’t switch off illegally acquired sim-cards they will be penalized and or have their licenses revoked. Cabinet has taken this position and we will enforce it without exception,” Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze said in February.
“Cabinet directed the Minister of ICT and National Guidance to investigate Telecommunication Companies that registered Simcards with wrong Information with a view of taking strong punitive measures against them if found uncompliant with government’s standing policy of having all SIM cards registered before issuance with the use of a National Identity card for Nationals,” he added
The directive came hours after the death of Ms Susan Magara, who was kidnapped and eventually murdered by unknown people.
Magara’s kidnappers had been engaged in back to back calls with her family members, however, their mobile phones remained untraceable as the SIM Cards used were not registered.
Following the death of Magara, President Museveni issued an order that no person should be sold a mobile phone or SIM card unless they posses an electronic Identity Card.
“The NRM defeated rural terrorists like Kony and ADF; and defeated the Karimojong cattle rustlers because we created forces that could cope with those rural security challenges and equipment to assist them. The gaps we have been having in the towns have been lack of cameras and unregulated sale of mobile phone SIM cards to people without electronic identity cards. It is these gaps that we are in the process of closing. In the next few months, the cameras will be up in many areas,” Museveni said.
“Furthermore, no mobile or fixed phone SIM cards should be given to anybody without the electronic identity card. We may require the sellers of mobile phone SIM cards to have electronic identity card readers so that we rule out the photocopying of genuine electronic ID cards,” he added.
23.5m– registered telecom mobile users in the country
8- Telecommunications companies
98%– SIM Cards registered according UCC and Office of Prime Minister.