Following an upsurge in criminality, telecom companies in Uganda have suspended the sale of new SIM Cards after fresh directive from Uganda Communications Commission.
UCC says the new directive is aimed at removing unregistered SIM Cards off the air following an increase in criminal activity in the country.
A statement from MTN Uganda reads:
“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.
“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 National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).
MTN does not currently have direct access to the NIRA database, therefore the sale of new SIM Cards will be temporarily stopped.”
Africell Uganda, in a twitter post, also announced a halt to the sale of new lines;
‘Following a directive from Uganda Communications Commission, we wish to inform the public that sale/distribution of SIM Cards has been halted until the Commission establishes API connectivity with National Identification and Registration Authority for instant national identity verification.”
Airtel the other major telecom also announced:
“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 Uganda has temporarily stopped the Sale of Airtel SIM Cards until further notice. This notice takes immediate effect.”
This comes about following revelations that the criminal gang that kidnapped and killed city girl Susan Magara has carried out their operation using 22 phone lines all of which were unregistered.
This forced cabinet to issue new directives to UCC. The Cabinet directive was passed on by the Information and ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze;
“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.”