About two weeks before the ban was announced, hackers accessed Pegasus systems, the aggregator of MTN, Airtel, Stanbic Bank and Bank of Africa where they authorised mobile money transactions worth Shillings 10 billion to over 2000 Sim Cards registered in names of 40 local firms and foreigners.
Courtsey image of UCC headquarters in Bugolobi
regulator Uganda Communications Commission-UCC has lifted the ban on sim card
registration. A statement issued by Ibrahim Bbosa, the UCC Spokesperson
indicates that the decision to lift the ban on sim card registration that was announced
on June 26th, 2020 was reached in a meeting between the regulator
and telecom operators on Oct 17th, 2020.
In June, UCC
directed all telecom operators to suspend the sale of SIM Cards to corporate
bodies including companies, Non-Government Organisations- NGOs, Ministries,
Departments and Agencies of Government-MDAs and other unnatural persons. Although
UCC didn’t give a reason for the suspension, Uganda Radio Network –URN
understands the move was prompted by complaints from Uganda Police Force about
the increasing cases of fraud by people using Sim Cards registered in the names
of companies and NGOs.
weeks before the ban was announced, hackers accessed Pegasus systems,
the aggregator of MTN, Airtel, Stanbic Bank and Bank of Africa where they
authorised mobile money transactions worth Shillings 10 billion to over 2000
Sim Cards registered in names of 40 local firms and foreigners.
He lifting of the suspension hasn’t come without any
conditions. According to the new terms,
prior to selling a Sim card to a company incorporated under the Companies Act
2012, the telecoms are required to obtain a certified copy of the companies’
certificate of incorporation, certified copy of the Particulars of the
Directors of the Company; certified copy of the Form showing the registered
location/place of business of the Company and a copy of the companies’ Taxpayer
Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
“A copy of the National Identity Card of the Managing
Directors or Chief Executive officer of the Company, if Ugandan citizen, or a
copy of a valid Passport for a foreign Managing Director or Chief Executive
Officer. The Passport must contain a valid visa or immigration status as
indicated in the passport,” the
Adding that, “for nationals of the East African Community, a
copy of a valid passport shall suffice, in addition to a letter on the
company’s letterhead signed by the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer
authorising the purchase of the subject SIM Card(s) by the Company and
the purpose for which the SIM Cards are being purchased.”
Bbosa says that with the new guidelines, telecom operator
must carry out a company search at the Uganda Registration Service Bureau
(URSB) to certify the authenticity of the company documents provided by the
applicant for a corporate SIM Card before the SIM cards are activated.
“The cost of conducting a company search shall be borne by the company applying
for SIM cards. The Telecom operators shall only issue the SIM card to the
company after receiving confirmation from URSB about the authenticity of the
company documents provided,” the statement reads.
NGOs are required to present a certified copy of the NGO’s
permit and a letter of good standing from the NGO Bureau, a letter signed by
the Accounting officer of the NGO addressed to a specific telecommunications
operator requesting to acquire SIM cards. The letter must specify the purpose
for, which the SIM Cards are sought to be acquired.
Telecoms are also tasked to ascertain the purpose for which an eligible body
has applied for SIM Card(s) in its name. “Where the SIM Card(s) is to be used
by an individual/employee of the company, or entity, the telecom operator must
decline to register the SIM Card as a corporate registration and instead advise
the individual intended to use the SIM Card to be the one to acquire it in his
or her name using his National ID, for Ugandans, or Passport, for foreigners,”
reads the guidelines.
UCC has directed that the sale of SIM cards to corporate
bodies must not be outsourced and must be done at the designated operator’s
customer service centers. “Telecoms must register a maximum of 100 Corporate
SIM Cards on its network. Where an eligible corporate body requests to acquire
more than 100 (One Hundred) SIM Cards on any telecom operator’s network, the telecom
operator must advise the corporate body to seek for express written approval
from the Commission.”
Senior Staff Reporter
Joseph Kato is currently a Master's candidate at Makerere University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communication from Kampala International University, a Diploma in Journalism and he's also a graduate in Guidance and Counseling.