20 February 2019

Uganda: MTN Will Be Punished If It Breached Guidelines - Ucc

Kampala — MTN will be punished if it is found guilty of breaching operational guidelines, Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), has said.

Speaking on the sidelines of a stakeholder meeting for East African Communications Organisation on Monday, Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, said they, together with security agencies, are investigating to ascertain whether MTN breached operational guidelines.

"There will be punitive action if there is any breach. There are many measures [to punish breach] within the law," he said without offering more details.

Government, has without giving details, deported four MTN senior managers including chief executive officer Wim Vanhelleputte for alleged espionage.

Efforts to get a comment from MTN about the ongoing investigations were futile.

Under the UCC Act 2013, the commission is mandated to suspend or revoke a licence of an operator if they are found guilty of serious and repeated breach of set conditions.

The UCC Act also mandates the commission to suspend or revoke the licence of a telecom that is engaged in fraud, intentional misinterpretation or supporting treasonable activities under the Penal Code Act.

Although details of their deportation are still scanty, Ms Elsa Mussolini, the former MTN mobile money manager, said she had been deported for allegedly inciting violence and funding politicians such as Kyandondo East MP Robert Kyagulanyi to protest against social media and mobile money tax.

Mr Mutabazi said the deportations had for now had no impact on the telecom sector, given that MTN continues to hold its licence which was recently renewed for three months.

MTN's 20-year licence expired in October last year and has since been twice partially renewed.

Mr Vincent Bagiire, the ICT Ministry permanent secretary, said they would wait for the investigations to conclude to conduct any policy reform.

"We expect [some] decision to be determined through this investigation and any recommendations presented will be followed religiously," he said.

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