The ICT Association of Uganda (ICTAU) has today warned that the deadline set by Uganda Communications Commission for the registration of simcards will affect the already vulnerable economy.
In a letter addressed to the Executive Director of UCC, Geoffrey Mutabazi by ICTAU Chairman, Albert Mucunguzi, he says the directive poses significant risks which if not addressed could have severe consequences for Uganda’s society and economy.
“The 7 day deadline for verification of over 20 million Customers in the sector is stringent and impossible to achieve by both the Customers and the Telcoms. The timelines further include the 4 days Easter holiday break through which the Telcoms will be closed and Customers will be busy celebrating the festivities,” reads the letter.
Yet, “Uganda’s economy increasingly relies on mobile money transfers and related services. This directive, as written, could weaken the mobile money ecosystem by disconnecting large numbers of users, thereby causing harm to the overall economy. This outcome would likely have a disproportionate impact on rural customers who rely on mobile money services as a matter of survival, and are less likely to have the National IDs necessary to complete the re-verification process”.
It is worth noting that such customers are currently regarded as compliant for Mobile Money registration which is regulated by Bank of Uganda.
It further adds that this makes it impractical for all customers of mobile network operators to perform the tasks required for re-verification as per the directive.
“This timeline also does not cater for customers who are traveling or living abroad.”
ICTAU also complained about the strictness on identification documents saying, that whereas the directive only allows for the use of National IDs as acceptable/legal identification documents for Ugandan Citizens, a great number of people do not have their National IDs for various reasons and are therefore at risk of having their SIM cards deactivated for factors not within their control as consumers of telecommunication services.
“This is compounded by the fact that the law regarding SIM registration, the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010, and the Regulations thereunder is more permissive and allows the use of other forms of identification documents which are accepted for several other services including government services.”
They urged UCC to reconsider its directive.
We further recommend that mobile network operators be given the ability to verify National IDs prior to any new registration exercise or deadline, and that the identification document requirements be relaxed.”