Shs70m of closed Africell mobile money users remains unclaimed - BoU

Africell voluntarily closed its operations in Uganda in October 2021. Photo / File 

What you need to know:

  • Whereas a substantial number of Africell mobile money subscribers, who had balances in their accounts after the company closed, have been paid, Shs69.7m remains unclaimed and has been sent bank to Bank of Uganda. 

At least Shs69.7m is still held by Bank of Uganda as unclaimed balance due to now defunct Africell mobile money subscribers. 

In details contained in the Bank of Uganda 2021/22 Annual Report, the Central Bank indicated that a substantial number of Africell mobile money subscribers, who had balances in their accounts after the company closed its operations in Uganda, were paid during the period save for a residual number of subscribers, whose unclaimed balances have since been returned to the Central Bank. 

“The company [Africell] was successfully exited from the delivery of mobile money services, which were delivered in partnership with Stanbic Bank. The payment of Africell’s subscribers was completed and the residual unclaimed balances amounting to Shs69.7m were submitted to Bank of Uganda,” the report reads in part.

However, the report does not indicate how many subscribers were paid and no details of the number of accounts with unclaimed balances were availed. 

It is not clear how Bank of Uganda will handle the unclaimed balances. 

However, Under the National Payment Systems Act, when a mobile money account is closed any balances held in such an account, if no claim is lodged to the electronic money service provider, and details of the mobile money user are forwarded to Bank of Uganda. 

The law demands that at such a stage, the owner of the account or a legal representative can lodge a claim within seven years after the money has been submitted to the Central Bank. 

However, if no such claim is lodged within seven years, the money is transferred to Consolidated Fund. 

Africell voluntarily closed its operations in Uganda in October 2021, after “a careful consideration … and detailed assessment of [its] strategy to drive a digital transformation in Uganda.” 

At the time of its closure, Africell had been outcompeted in all core areas including data, digital and voice. 

Subscribers 

Africell had 1.2 million subscribers but it is not clear how many of these were mobile money subscribers and how many had balances in their mobile money accounts.  

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