UCC Doesn't Know Number of Unregistered SIM Cards

3021 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Uganda Communications Commission UCC has no information in regard to the number of unregistered or partially registered SIM cards in Uganda.

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has no information in regard to the number of unregistered or partially registered SIM cards in Uganda.

The commission's executive director Godfrey Mutabazi made the revelation while addressing the media at UCC headquarters in Bugolobi, Kampala today.

While responding to questions from journalists on the number of unregistered Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards, Mutabazi he doesn't know. He added that the Commission expects to get the figures in the coming days when telecom companies switch off all unregistered or partially registered cards.

//Cue in: "You asked...
Cue out...registered sim cards."// 

The commission has directed telecom companies in Uganda to switch off all unregistered and partially registered SIM cards before midnight on Wednesday.

Mutabazi said all chief executive officers of telecom companies in Uganda have agreed to implement the directive in a meeting on Tuesday.  

//Cue in: "All non... 
Cue out…of March."// 

This is the third time that UCC is directing telecom companies to switch all unregistered SIM cards.

When asked how serious the latest directive is and how it will be implemented, Mutabazi noted that this time telecom companies have clear identification to verify before registration which were not in place in 2012 when the process started.

He said the national Identity Cards and passports cannot be easily abused or accessed by anyone. For instance, Mutabazi said, a person can easily get a Local Council letter or create his or her own fake company identity card.

He said, unlike other identification documents, the national identity card and passports can be traced if abused.

This time, Mutabazi said telecom companies that defy the directive will be fined up to 10 percent of their annual profit. He said the commission can also suspend or revoke licences of telecom companies that defy the directives.

UCC also directed telecom companies to stop vending of all non-registered and pre-activated SIM cards, restriction of SIM card registration to Uganda national identity cards and valid passport.  The companies have also been directed not to allow any individual to register more than 10 SIM cards.

On Friday this week, telecom companies will also meet and discuss SIM card registration challenges with key stakeholders such as Ministry of Internal Affairs, National Identity Registration Agency (NIRA) and the Uganda Police Force. The telecom companies will also update the commission on Friday with the number of SIM cards they have blocked.

The strict conditions being put in place, Mutabazi said are meant to improve security of Ugandans.

//Cue in: "These telecoms... 
Cue out…our security."//

These directives come two weeks after the assassination of Assistant Inspector General of Police Andrew Felix Kaweesi. Mutabazi said "we have heard that unregistered SIM cards were used to send threats to Kaweesi. When police file an official complaint, we shall punish the telecom company that owns that SIM card."

The police investigators are finding it difficult to identify the source of the death threats Kaweesi reportedly received days before he was shot dead on March 17, when assailants ambushed his car. His driver Godfrey Mambewa and bodyguard Kenneth Erau were also killed. 


About the author

Blanshe Musinguzi
Musinguzi Blanshe is a politics-cum-business journalist. He joined Uganda Radio Network in February 2017. Previously, he worked at Daily Monitor and Red Pepper Publications Limited. He is keenly interested in data journalism.