Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has tasked all telecommunication companies to find a lasting solution for the unregistered sim cards still in use up to date yet they were ordered to switch them off.
The meeting that took place here at the Uganda Communications Commission headquarters, between the regulator, Police and telecoms revealed that there are unregistered sim cards and counterfeit phones still in use even when telecoms were ordered to switch these off after a deadline.
In 2017, the government set and extended deadlines for Simcard registration several times that would later prompt the switching off of those unregistered. The first deadline set by the government for all unregistered SIM-cards to be switched off was 19th May 2017, announced by then ICT minister Frank Tumwebaze. He vowed it would be enforced at midnight.
This didn’t come to pass, President Yoweri Museveni through a tweet, issued a new SIM card registration deadline which would end on August 30, 2017. This was set on condition that the new deadline would be respected. Even after a presidential directive, there are still unregistered sim cards in use.
“Technology gets advanced every after two years or 18 months, therefore, as we advance technology, so do the criminals, to beat the system, but we keep trying. So we have engaged telecoms to explain why this happened. We are meeting them on Monday again, it is urgent and we continue to monitor those on the market,’ UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi told Nile Post.
UCC now boasts of a capacity to reign on counterfeit phones and sync phone serial numbers’ identities with sim cards operating in those phones. But how effective is this process in curbing crime?
“We have bought equipment, we have it here. Of course, it cost us a lot of money, I can’t put a figure to it for now, but with this technology, we are able to monitor the numbers tied to the handsets, telecoms are able to tell when these numbers are swapped within different phones and then they put a question mark on them,’ Mutabazi adds.