Uganda to disconnect unregistered SIM cards on November 12, telecom companies warn

"SIM card regularization deadline approaches, telecom companies make final push to remind cardholders to act fast"

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The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and telecom companies are making a final push to remind cardholders to regularize their SIM cards before the November 12, 2023 deadline. This initiative is in strict compliance with the regulations outlined in the Interception of Communications Act.

SIM card regularization requires registered owners to physically visit their respective telecom providers with their original national identity cards for a thorough screening and verification process. According to data from the UCC, Uganda has more than 30 million registered SIM cards, but approximately 2 percent of them are classified as non-regularized, totaling around 600,000 subscribers.

The regularization process aligns with Section 9 of the Regulations of the Interception of Communications Act, which mandates telecommunication service providers to collect comprehensive customer information, including personal and business details, before offering services to individuals or entities, and to maintain records. These regulations also require that each active SIM card must be associated with a National Identification Card, with a limit of no more than 10 SIM cards from the same telecom company per cardholder.

Abudu Salaam Waiswa, the Head of Legal Affairs at UCC, emphasized that the sole purpose of this exercise is to ensure compliance with the law and to have every subscriber fully registered, in line with existing legal requirements. He noted that affected subscribers who have not yet completed the process will be contacted by their respective telecom companies.

Individuals whose SIM cards may be deactivated need not worry about losing their mobile money. This is due to the existence of the national mobile payment systems number, which allows customers to access their funds even without their SIM cards. As Waiswa explained, customers can still access their money by proving their ownership to the service providers, especially with their National ID.

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Individuals without National IDs can obtain a letter from the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) confirming their details, which will be accepted for the regularization process.

Both Airtel Uganda and MTN Uganda affirmed that this comprehensive effort to regularize SIM cards aims to strengthen national security, ensure full compliance with the law, and protect the interests of Ugandan citizens.

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