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UCC lifts ban on sale and replacement of SIM cards

Stringent measures will remain in place to forestall abuse of the system

The problem of long queues that have in the last few months become commonplace at telecom outlets since the Government outlawed the sale and swapping of SIM cards, may become a thing of the past.

Government has moved to lift the ban after a decision to lift the two-month ban was reached on Tuesday.

Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) boss Godfrey Mutabazi met a number of stakeholders in the industry, comprised mostly of telecom companies.

The ban was put in place following a spike in kidnaps in country, which the Police said were made possible by the lax SIM card registration system. The ban came into place shortly after the murder of 28-year-old Susan Magara, who was kidnapped on February 7 as she was driving to her home in Lungujja.

Mutabazi said UCC has now been provided with connectivity to the Application Programming Interface (API) facility at the National Identification Registration Authority.

“This can now match and conduct real time online verification of customers’ information with the national identification database,” Mutabazi said in a statement.

“Accordingly, telecommunication operators who have deployed online electronic biometric card readers can now resume issuance of SIM cards to both new and existing customers.”

Mutabazi however maintained that stringent measures will remain in place to forestall abuse of the system.

Among them is the requirement of customers have to physically appear and present their original national ID card. The IDs then must be authenticated by the electronic biometric card reader.

For foreigners, the SIM card will be issued only on presentation of a valid passport with a visa.

“The SIM card issued should only be active for the period of the validity of the customer’s visa or resident permit. The operator must deactivate the SIM card upon expiry of the customer’s visa or resident permit,” Mutabazi added.

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