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Gov’t to withdraw Licenses of telecoms with poor networks

ICT Minister Frank Tumwebaze appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Finance, where he had been summoned to leave queries on the recent ban on airtime scratch cards (PML Daily Photo)

KAMPALA – Government is going to start declining the issuance of licenses to Telecom companies that have no capacity to serve the whole country with good connectivity.

The revelation was made by the Minister of ICT & National Guidance, Frank Tumwebaze while appearing before the Parliamentary Committee of Finance, where he had been summoned to leave queries on the recent ban on airtime scratch cards.

The matter followed complaints raised by a section of MPs over the poor network coverage across the country, questioning how Uganda Communications Commission intends to enforce the electronic recharge of airtime yet some Telecoms are yet to stabilise their network coverage across the country.

Tumwebaze informed the Committee that Ministry has already drafted a policy that will guide on the upgrade of broadband of network for both rural and urban areas, adding that Telecoms not in the position to serve the entire country will be denied operating license.

The Minister explained: “Each operator will show us how they will operate the site. It will be easy for the Operator to demand clear milestones and one of the things we are demanding is that we can’t give you an operator license as a Telecom company if you aren’t able to cover the whole country because if you aren’t able to cover the whole country, you create monopolies that are able to cover the whole country because it will be one or two everywhere.”

Alex Ruhunda (Fort Portal Municipality) questioned both UCC and the Ministry of ICT on Police’s capacity to link with Telecom companies in tracking criminals asking, “How can we have such infrastructure but fail to track thieves?”

Among the complaints raised was the failure by UCC to adequately sensitise the public on the need to go digital with airtime and called on the Commission to undertake a countrywide sensitization program with emphasis to be put on all communication having to be in all languages across the country.

Committee Vice-Chairperson, Paul Amoru wondered why Uganda is still stuck with over 40% of fake phones and questioned why the Ministry has failed to impose a ban on the importation of fake phones.

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