Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) on Tuesday issued a seven-day ultimatum for fresh registration of SIM cards for those who did not register using their national IDs, passport for foreigners and certified document from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) for refugees.
The decision was impelled by security concerns arising from the killing of Assistant Inspector General of Police, Andrew Felix Kaweesi, his driver and body guard by unknown assassins. Police authorities have since admitted that unregistered SIM cards have derailed efforts to trace the suspects.
There was a low turn up on the first day of revalidating SIM cards. A survey conducted by Daily Monitor around the city centre found only a few subscribers at the different telecom service centres had turned up for the exercise. Majority of the subscribers were on routine visits for other services like internet settings and SIM card swapping. Some people who talked to Daily Monitor confessed that they didn’t know the procedure and asked UCC to extend the deadline.
About the procedure
Mr Anthony Katamba, MTN’s corporate affairs manager and Ms Faith Bugonzi, Airtel’s publicist, said they had received UCC’s new guidelines and had started sending the *197# code to enable their subscribers register online. One needs to dial *197# code, you select option 3 (National ID), enter your NIN (it is on your ID), enter your first name followed by your surname.
Alternatively, Mr Gilbert Kadilo, National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) public relations manager, said the onus is on subscribers to approach their telecom companies for validation. He said those without national IDs can register and acquire them in a two months period. “You can go to your telecom’s service centre with a national ID, passport or OPM certificate for validation of your SIM card,” Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, UCC’s executive director, said.
Nevertheless, UCC’s seven-day ultimatum has attracted condemnation from politicians and rights defenders. Under the new guidelines, all new and existing mobile phone numbers will have to be registered using explicit documents to be activated on a mobile network in Uganda. The deadline for fresh SIM card registration is April 18.
What is SIM card registration?
According to UCC website, SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. SIM card registration is the process of recording and verifying mobile phone number/s and personal information of a subscriber, by a communications service provider. Such information includes the subscriber’s photograph, name, date of birth, gender, address and details of valid identification documents.
SIM card registration, according to UCC, is intended to help law enforcers to identify the mobile phone SIM card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb incidents such as loss of phone through theft, hate text messages, fraud, inciting violence and help service providers know their customers better.