Kampala — Six months down the road with the ongoing Subscriber Identification Module -SIM card registration exercise, Telecom operators and the regulator Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) have decried declining trend in registration.
According to Mr. Fred Otunnu UCC Head of Communications and Consumer Affairs, the declining trend is attributed to the laxity by subscribers, attendant costs and failure to provide acceptable identification especially in rural areas.
"The lack of a national Identity card or even identification from Local Council Chairpersons in rural areas yet it is a necessary requirement has delayed the process in many areas," said Otunnu adding that the general laxity with a feeling that there is still more time among the subscribers has also shifted the trend down wards. He, however, revealed the regulator in partnership with the operators have agreed to work together in a bid to address such challenges in the second phase of the exercise.
"During the first six months, UCC and the Telecoms have been working individually with regards to registration sensitization but have decided to work hand in hand for a holistic approach," revealed Otunnu.
The registration of SIM cards countrywide commenced on March 1 2012 and is expected to last for a year until March 1, 2013 when the exercise will expire. The registration follows the enactment of the Interception of Communication Act which provides for the registration of existing SIM cards. According to UCC, all new and existing mobile phone numbers have to be registered to be activated on a mobile network in Uganda.
Mr. Amos Ngabirano, Director ICT Uganda Police Force said the exercise aims to ensure all subscribers are registered as the country strives to fight terrorism threats.
"Uganda still lacks an effective Identity Management System, or a national identity database of its citizens, this exercise is necessary to prevent the harassment many Ugandans go through at the hands of people using mobile phones to perpetrate crime," noted Ngabirano.
He added the exercise does not only look at curding terrorism cases but also considers mitigating the increasing fraud cases in the country.
UCC implemented a SIM Card registration survey in a number of districts in the country which revealed that most customers are aware of the exercise but up to 60% of them have not registered.
"UCC in collaboration with the operators will hold a joint out reach in major towns and suburbs with effect from October 2012 to have the unregistered portion of the population covered," noted Otunnu.
Jael Wawulira, Director Customer Service said the exercise confirms ownership of the SIM card confirmed that the data collected from clients will be handled by telecommunications companies confidentially.
There are about 16 million telephone subscribers in Uganda and the process of SIM card registration is part of the regional exercise in East Africa. In Kenya and Tanzania at least 80 per cent of SIM cards in each country have been registered.