Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is not backtracking on its decision to shut down sim cards who’s owners will not have verified their registration in the coming three days, in spite of the growing backlash.
UCC early this week gave telecom companies in the country seven days to conduct the verification exercise and shut down the unverified cards thereafter.
In this exercise, subscribers are required to verify their sim cards by sending their National Identification Numbers (NIN) on their National IDs to their respective service providers.
This however, might be problematic to thousands who currently don’t have their national IDs; having perhaps lost them or have never received them since registration.
According to National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) which is charged with issuing the national IDs, there is currently more than one million cards that have never been claimed by owners.
UCC executive director Eng. Godfrey Mutabaazi nonetheless says the Commission is positive that seven days will suffice for everyone to complete the registration.
“I know that some people will fall victim; in society there is always a few individuals that will abuse the system,” he said. “But we have to do our job. We have to protect the population.”
While appearing on the Capital Gang talk show on Saturday, the UCC advised individuals without their cards to endeavor to obtain their NINs, as these are the only requirements for the exercise.
“You don’t need to have your national ID with you. Those that don’t have them should go to NIRA and get their NINs.”
He added, “I have spoken to the NIRA ED and he told me that their head offices at Kololo are open, as well as all their regional offices.”
NIRA currently has an office in every district in the country and at all 5 division offices of the Kampala Capital City Authority.
Mutabaazi reemphasized that the sim verification is intended to deal with the wrong elements that are continuously taking advantage of the loopholes in the sim card registration system.
“We are suggesting that one should not have more than 10 sim cards across all networks. We have been arresting people with more than 200 sims. Some of you have received calls from abroad when the number shows that it is local. These are the people who are bypassing our gateways. It is the result of people being able to buy multiple sim cards using fake names. This is why we are insisting on the national IDs,” Mutabaazi explained.
Mr Mutabazi says the seven days provided for the verification will be enough and that depending on the numbers, there may be no need to extend the deadline.
The UCC boss noted for instance that all civil servants in the country currently have their national IDs. (It is required for their payment).
“Therefore, if we have 99% registration in seven days, then there will be no need for deadline extension,” he said