By Spy Reporter
Kampala, Uganda: The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) Executive Director Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi has been summoned to Parliament by the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga, to explain why airtime scratch cards were banned in Uganda.
The ban from UCC, which took effect in July 2018, compelled all telecom and airtime dealers to stop selling airtime scratch cards but instead reload their clientele’s accounts electronically through the Easy Load airtime system. While explaining the basis for banning the scratch cards, ICT and National guidance Minister Frank Kagyigyi Tumwebaze said the cards were a security threat having discovered that these cards were untraceable and aiding the use of unregistered sim cards.
According to the Minister, the use of electronic recharge systems was therefore recommended as “the most viable and secure option, with so many other attendant advantages”. However, banning of airtime scratch cards has since resulted into several problems, with many people, especially those in rural areas, being denied chance to communicate with relatives or transact business on phone because of lack of access to airtime. This in turn resulted into telecom dealers losing billions of shillings in form of missed sales on airtime. The situation became so problematic for people using mobile phones to the extent that Parliamentarians recently tabled a proposal to reinstate the sale of airtime scratch cards. It is for that reason that Mutabaazi has been summoned to Parliament, to explain why the scratch cards were banned and the possibility of them being returned to the market so as to solve the current impasse.
Kadaga contends that the demand for the scratch cards is still high, regardless of the easy load system that was put in place by the telecoms. Kadaga told legislators that during her interactions with voters through radio talk shows the issue of having no scratch cards has always been voiced by numerous Ugandans. Kadaga said that “Members, the Minister of ICT, Frank Tumwebaze as well as the UCC Executive Director, Godfrey Mutabazi say that they have no powers to handle the communication companies,” She added that, “We cannot allow a situation where our leaders are being dis-empowered. We shall look at that and get back to you and if there is need to change the law, we shall do that