UCC sets deadline to switch off over 330,000 unverified SIM cards

Uganda ranked poor among countries with bad sim card registration policies

Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has scheduled November 12, 2023, as the deadline for subscribers to verify their SIM cards.

Telecommunications service providers have been actively engaging with the public to ensure compliance with the evolving subscriber registration requirements.

Initially, the SIM card registration process, mandated by the government, primarily involved the capture of National Identification Numbers (NINs). Subsequently, the Government of Uganda introduced additional measures, necessitating the collection of subscribers’ thumbprints or biometrics.

In May 2023, the Government of Uganda, through the Minister of Security, issued the Regulation of Interception of Communications Regulations 2023. This move aims to further streamline and harmonize the existing procedures for SIM card registration in Uganda.

Regulation 18 of the new Regulations acknowledges that some customers were previously registered by telecom operators using other forms of identification and procedures that do not align with the new regulatory requirements.

To harmonize the SIM Card-Know Your Customer (KYC) database, Regulation 18 requires telecom operators to reach out to customers whose SIM card registrations may not have been properly executed within 180 days from the date of publication of the Regulations.

The countdown began on May 12, 2023, and the Commission directed all telecom operators to ensure that this regularization process is completed by November 12, 2023.

Subscribers whose SIM cards require regularization are kindly requested to physically visit their service provider’s service centers to update their registration information, and they should bring their original National IDs. Importantly, this regularization process will be undertaken at no additional cost to the customer.

In a statement issued on Monday 6, November 2023, the UCC emphasized that SIM cards that remain unregularized after midnight on November 12, 2023, will be deactivated.

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“These SIM cards will remain inactive until the customer complies with the regularization process. If a customer fails to regularize the deactivated SIM card within 90 days from November 12, 2023, the operators will treat such inactive SIM cards as not in use, in accordance with Regulation 23.”

Regulation 23 stipulates that a SIM card not in use for a continuous period of 90 days will be deactivated and may be assigned to another customer. If the SIM card is registered for mobile money with a balance, the operator will keep the SIM card inactive, and the mobile money balance preserved for nine months, as specified under section 57 of the National Payments Systems Act 2020. After this period, the mobile money balance will be transferred to the Bank of Uganda (BOU) for further management.

“We strongly urge all affected subscribers to act promptly to avoid disruptions to their services,” stated UCC.

The regulator reaffirms their commitment to ensuring that telecommunication services meet all regulatory requirements and that subscribers enjoy a seamless and secure mobile experience.