UCC bans vending of airtime, simcards

The telecommunications regulator, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has outlawed vending of airtime and simcards on streets and other unlicensed locations across the country.

UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi told journalists earlier today that “from now on, we shall not allow any hawkers of communication gadgets before the implementation of the new improvements.”

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.

This means that anyone acquiring a new simcard will have their bio-data provided during registration for the national ID cross-referenced to the card.

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.”