Thursday, May 25, 2017

#Uganda govt agencies trade blame over the #SimCardRegistration mess @FrankTumwebazeK @StateHouseUg

Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) yesterday issued a directive to telecom companies to reactivate SIM cards whose services had been suspended after a government directive to switch them off on May 19 but the whole SIM card registration exercise remained laced with controversies.
The directive which came more than 24 hours after President Museveni’s order UCC to give Ugandans more time to register, followed a meeting between UCC and telecom officials on Wednesday morning.
In the same meeting, telecom companies were also directed to only register new subscribers using “Ugandan National Identity Cards for Ugandans and valid passports for non-Ugandans and refugee cards and letters from the Office of the Prime Minister for refugees”.
However, both UCC and the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) were until yesterday unwilling to take full responsibility on whose mandate it is to ensure all Ugandans who require National Identity registration services get them and are consequently registered to comply with the August 30 deadline issued by President Museveni.
UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi also revealed that the ongoing SIM card registration and verification had been imposed on UCC by security agencies.
“I think this exercise is not a UCC exercise, this is a security exercise. We are guided by the ministry of Security that we should register every SIM card with the appropriate document as mandated by the law. It is a security matter,” he said.
Without explaining how, both Security minister Henry Tumukunde and ICT and National Guidance minister Frank Tumwebaze have previously said the SIM card registration is aimed at improving the security of the country.
Addressing journalists at UCC headquarters in Kampala, Mr Mutabazi pushed the blame in the delay of the exercise on inefficiencies within NIRA’s registration process.
“There was a problem with the SIM card registration because the validation exercise is, you had to submit your details to the telecom companies and the telecom companies had to remit that information to NIRA for verification and there were some challenges because there were delays,” he said.
Mr Mutabazi explained that switching off subscribers because their NINs did not tally with NIRA’s data was wrong because the problem is not with the subscriber but “NIRA and their document” and that the three months will give NIRA time to address the concerns of the affected Ugandans.
On Tuesday Mr Gilbert Kadilo, the public relations and corporate affairs manager at NIRA, told Daily Monitor that NIRA’s registration exercise would go on after the SIM card validation process and that the authority was doing everything in its power to aid the current process.
NIRA had earlier said the ongoing SIM card validation exercise is incidental to its mandate to register all Ugandans and issue them with national IDs.  Many of the subscribers whose SIM cards had been switched off, had by press time had their services restored.
Leading telecom firm MTN Uganda had issued an advisory to its subscribers who have registered but are yet to get their NINs to use forms obtained from NIRA to register.
The matter which a government official, who we cannot name because they are not authorised to speak on the matter, has warned against because it is likely to cause duplication in the future, had earlier been agreed on between telecoms and government officials.
“For those without national IDs/NINs but have applied for one and have an application form number, you can dial *197# and select option 2 to enter your application ID, given name and surname,” the statement reads in part.

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