Uganda's comms regulator lifts SIM card ban


The Ugandan Communications Commission (UCC) has lifted a ban on the sale and replacement of SIM cards.

In March the UCC imposed a ban because of what police described as a lax SIM card registration system that they claim has contributed to an increase in the number of kidnappings in the country.

UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi this week corresponded with mobile phone operators and said those that have deployed online electronic card readers could resume issuing SIM cards.

According to the regulator, it has provided connectivity to the Application Programming Interface (API) at the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA).

It added that operators can now match and conduct real-time online verification of customer information with the national identification database.

Customers seeking to acquire, upgrade or replace a SIM card must physically appear and present their original national identification cards to an operator's designated customer care agent at a designated customer centre or registration point, according to the UCC.

Operators are required to verify the authenticity of the national identification using an electronic biometric card reader, match the applicant's live biometrics with the biometrics on the national identity card, and obtain real-time verification of the customer's information with NIRA's national identification database through API.

For foreigners visiting the country, Mutabazi said SIM cards will only be issued upon presentation of a valid passport and visa, and that the operator must deactivate the SIM cards upon the expiry of the customer's visa or work permit.

Mutabazi has warned that operators who will fail to comply with these directives will be held liable.