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Uganda Communication Commission bans airtime and sim card vending

By Mitchell Jena, editorial@alleastafrica.com

KAMPALA – Airtime and sim card vendors in Uganda are counting losses after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) outlawed the vending of the products in teh streets and other unlicensed locations across the country.

Speaking to journalists, UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi said that they wll not allow the selling of the communication gadgets until the laws are improved and implemented.

“From now on, we shall not allow any hawkers of communication gadgets before the implementation of the new improvements,” said Mutabazi

The improvements include rolling out of national ID card reader machines at telecom operator’s service centers. The machines will be synced with the National Identification Registration Authority’s (NIRA) database.

“Anyone acquiring a new simcard will have their bio-data provided during registration for the national ID cross-referenced to the card,” said the director.

The directive, UCC claims, is premised on the increased crime wave that partly led to the firing of Inspector General of Police, Kale Kayihura, last Sunday.

Going forward, simcard registration and airtime transactions will made at only the designated service centres, Mr Mutabazi said. Mobile phone users can also use the mobile money service to purchase airtime, he said.

Telecom companies, MTN, Airtel and Africell, told his website that following numerous discussions with UCC, currently they had “temporarily” halted sale of simcards at all their service centers.

MTN Uganda, with 55 per cent market share, said in a statement that “as per to the directive, we shall need to acquire and install card readers at our respective service centers to validate national identification information before activation of a new simcard.”

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