Ugandans will have to spend days off air as they wait to have their misplaced or damaged cards switched back on following new regulations set by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
A statement by the Executive Director to UCC, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, issued on Tuesday March 27, states that besides presenting a police report that has been a standard requirement for anyone seeking to have their SIM card replaced or swapped, subscribers will now have to present a letter from the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA), verifying and validating that a sim card holder’s National Identity Card is authentic.
Before this new regulation was passed, telecom clients presented their IDs at a sales point where they would have the ID scanned and a message sent to NIRA, which would in response send a message stating that indeed the card holder was registered. A new sim card would then be issued.
However, following the killing of Sudan Magara last month, President Yoweri Museveni issued a directive that telecoms should acquire electronic card readers, which will help verify the authenticity of an applicant’s ID.
UCC has also directed that telecom operators will register afresh applicants using biometrics and a photograph. Applicants will also be required to fill out a fresh SIM card registration form.
The communications regulator has also directed that before the SIM card is issued, telecom operators must ensure that the holder shall be using the SIM card in a genuine Type Approved Device.
This is the latest of various new regulations that the UCC has issued. Last week, Mutabazi issued a statement banning all telecom operators from issuing any new sim cards or carry out any sim swaps.
On March 9, Mr Mutabazi, in a press conference decreed that vending of airtime and simcards was illegal.
He told journalists then that anyone seeking to trade in airtime and simcards must be duly licensed by UCC, and must be known to the telecom service provider.
“From now on, we shall not allow any hawkers of communication gadgets before the implementation of new improvements. We have introduced card readers where all cards will have to put in their particulars,” Mr Mutabazi said.
He added that all mobile phones on sale will be registered.
The new regulations are part of government efforts to curb crime which was at alarming levels in the country. Several crimes reported were linked to use of simcards by the perpetuators.