Telecoms Bow To UCC Pressure, Halts Hawking Of Simcards, Airtime

Telecoms Bow To UCC Pressure, Halts Hawking Of Simcards, Airtime

By our reporter

MTN, Airtel, Africell and UTL have temporarily stopped the sale and hawking of new SIM cards and airtime until they get direct access to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) database.

In statements on Thursday, Airtel Uganda, Africell and MTN Uganda all said they were responding to new guidelines issued by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) with regards to selling of new SIM cards.

An MTN statement released on Thursday

Ugandan telecommunications companies have been advised by UCC to immediately cease the sale of SIM cards through hawkers, street vendors, street agents and any other establishments that are not licensed by Kampala City Council 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 the 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. We are working with UCC and NIRA to implement the necessary technical requirements to enable this as soon as possible. MTN regrets any inconvenience caused. Management,” the statement said.

Airtel also sent out a similar statement. “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.”

Last week, Uganda Communications Commission was directed by government to investigate the existence of active sim-cards that are not properly registered and are being used by criminals.

“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 last week.

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