Govt lifts ban on sale of SIM cards

Customers queueing at an MTN store when the Telecom announced resumption of SIM card replacements earlier this month: PML DAILY PHOTO

KAMPALA. Telecommunication companies are now free to sell and replace their clients’ SIM cards after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) lifted the two-month ban on the exercise.

In a May 8 statement issued by Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, telecom operators can resume issuance of SIM Cards to both new and existing customers since they have deployed online Electronic Biometric Card Readers.

“Accordingly, Telecommunication Operators who have deployed online Electronic Biometric Card Readers can now resume issuance of SIM Cards to both new and existing customers using the real-time online verification system,” the statement copied to telephone companies reads in part.

The announcement comes as a relief to several telecom subscribers who have had to endure long lines at different telecom centres in a bid to replace their lines.

Airtel on Tuesday announced it had resumed registration for new SIM cards.

However, UCC directed the phone companies to ensure that the subscriber physically presents his or her original National identity card before acquiring the SIM Card. Non-citizens are required to present their valid passports.

“The Commission reminds all operators to strictly comply with all the aforesaid conditions. Operators shall be individually held liable for any SIM Card registered, upgraded or replaced contrary to these guidelines,” the letter adds.

It further directs all nationals without valid National Identification cards to contact NIRA for guidance on the registration process and obtain National Identification Cards before they may be allowed to acquire, upgrade or replace SIM Cards.

In March this year, following the wave of several kidnaps and murders of women in Kampala and Wakiso district, the communications regulatory body stopped the sale of new SIM cards until operators installed card readers to electronically validate national identity cards.





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