MTN customers seen lined up to re-swap/replace their simcards at the MTN service center at Shoprite-Lugogo Mall in Kampala, Uganda. (Photo Credit: Photojournalist, Pius Enywaru)
MTN customers seen lined up to re-swap/replace their simcards at the MTN service center at Shoprite-Lugogo Mall in Kampala, Uganda. (Photo Credit: Photojournalist, Pius Enywaru)

Government regulatory body of the communications sector; Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) and National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) have on Tuesday come in an agreement and lifted the ban that was imposed to telcos on sim card sales and replacement.

The announcement was made by the Minister of ICT and National Guidance in Uganda; Hon. Frank K. Tumwebaze – as seen in his Official Twitter account.

The tweet read, “To all Ugandans: @UCC_Official & @NIRA_Ug have concluded on all the procedures required to ease the process for #Simcardswaps & New #Simcardregistration while addressing all the security concerns.The #telecos are now free to resume in accordance with the procedures put in place.”

The notice was addressed to MTN Uganda, Airtel Uganda, Uganda Telecoms, Africell Uganda, K2 Telecom, Afrimax Uganda Limited/Vodafone Uganda, Smile Communication, Sure Telecom Uganda Limited/Smart Telecom, and Tangerine Uganda.

New Guidelines for Ugandan Nationals
For a Ugandan national seeking to acquire, upgrade or replace a sim card, they must physically appear and present his or her original National ID to respective operators.

The operator will then have to verify the authenticity of the sim card holder’s National ID using the Electronic Biometric Card Readers that were provided by NIRA in April. Match the applicant’s live biometrics with the biometrics on the card, and obtain real-time verification with the NIRA database through the API. The real-time verification solves the queues at NIRA offices that had to issue letters for sim card replacement.

The operator will have to re-register the applicant for the sim card and ensure that the applicant expressly gives authority to the Telecom Operator to access and match his or her details with NIRA’s database.

The operator will then obtain a fresh Photograph of the applicant. This condition will be done every time a customer comes to replace their sim cards.

For the case of a lost SIM Card, the applicant must present a valid letter from the police confirming the loss of their sim cards then follow the entire process as above.

Guidelines for non-Ugandans 
Meanwhile, for non-Ugandans, the applicant whether new or replacement, must physically appear and present his or her original passport to the operator’s designated customer service center, as well as present the most recent passport photographs, which shall be attached to the sim card registration form.

They shall only be allowed to purchase sim cards upon the production of an original valid passport, with a valid visa or resident permit.

However, on a strong point for non-Ugandans, the sim card issued to them will only be active for the period of the validity of the customer’s Visa or resident permit – of which then the respective operator will have to deactivate the sim card upon expiry of the customer’s Visa or resident permit.

UCC has called upon all operators to STRICTLY comply with all the aforesaid conditions as they shall be individually held liable for any sim cards registered, upgraded, or replaced contrary to these guidelines.