simThe Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) will switch off mobile phone owners who will not have registered their Simcards by August 31. Appearing before the parliament ICT committee, the UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi said they have been too patient and extended the deadline several times.

“We are going to run announcements in the media about this deadline so that at the end of August nobody will have an excuse,”Mr. Mutabazi explained. He explained to the committee that 90% of the telecom subscribers have already registered their SIM Cards.

Reports from UCC indicate that SIM card registration process was initially set to take a year from March 2012 but by March 2013 only 70% of the existing SIM cards had been registered with many of the unregistered located in hard to reach areas.

On the counterfeit mobile phones used by telecom subscribers, the UCC director for technology, networks and services, Patrick Mwesigwa said they have given a deadline of October 31, for all counterfeit mobile phones to be disconnected. He revealed that they were carrying out a study to establish the number of counterfeit phones on the network which will be completed in September. “Counterfeit phones are very dangerous to the bearers. They are a health hazard because they do not conform to the international standards regarding the amount of energy they radiate,” Mwesigwa explained. He said UCC has put in place a mechanism which enables Ugandans to tell whether their phones are counterfeit or not.

The MPs on the committee however appealed to UCC to consider extending the deadline for phasing out counterfeit phones. “Counterfeit phones have a bigger user base. The removal of these phones from the network can reduce telecom sector revenue by 30%. They should leave them and only ensure that no more counterfeit phones get into the market,” said James Kyewalabye, the MP for Kiboga. Bukholi Central North MP Wafula Oguttu proposed that UCC gives Ugandans enough period of not less than one year to shift from the counterfeit phones to the genuine ones which are more expensive.

The committee chairperson Paula Mary Turyahikayo appealed to UCC to carry out a massive sensitization of the public on SIM card registration, counterfeit phones and digital migration so that no one is left behind due to lack of information.


Credit: The New Vision