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MTN customers seen lined up to swap their sim cards at the MTN service center at Shoprite-Lugogo Mall in Kampala, Uganda.
MTN customers seen lined up to swap their sim cards at the MTN service center at Shoprite-Lugogo Mall in Kampala. Courtesy Photo

UCC Lifts Ban on Sale, Swapping SIM Cards

According to UCC, the country’s communications regulator, telecommunication operators who have deployed online Electronic Biometric Card Readers can now resume issuance of SIM Cards to both new and existing customers using the real-time online verification system.
posted onMay 8, 2018
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By Kampala Post reporter

KAMPALA. Uganda Communications Commission has lifted the ban on the sale and replacement of SIM cards by telecom operators in the country.

This comes after the Commission provided connectivity to the Application Programing Interface (API) at NIRA where operators can now match and conduct real-time online verification of customer's information with the National Identification database. This was announced in a statement released on Tuesday afternoon.

According to UCC, the country’s communications regulator, telecommunication operators who have deployed online Electronic Biometric Card Readers can now resume issuance of SIM Cards to both new and existing customers using the real-time online verification system.

However, the statement directs operators to strictly adhere to particular conditions with regards to new SIM Card sales, SIM upgrades, SIM swaps, and SIM replacements. They conditions are listed below:

1. A customer seeking to acquire, upgrade or replace a SIM Card must physically appear and present his or her original National Identification Card to an operator's designated customer care agent at a designated customer care center or registration point.

2. The Operator must verify the authenticity of the National Identification Card using an Electronic Biometric Card Reader, match the applicant's live biometrics with the biometrics on the card, and obtain real-time verification with the NIRA database through the API. For avoidance of doubt, where, for whatever reason, the operator is unable to conduct online real-time verification of the customer's information with NIRA's national ID database, the operator should not proceed with the issuance, upgrade or replacement of the SIM Card.

3. The Operator must obtain a fresh Photograph of the applicant.

4. The Operator must 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 the National identification database maintained by NIRA.

 5. The Operator must retain a record of all registration details of the applicant.

According to the statement signed by the UCC executive director Godfrey Mutabazi, “With regards to lost SIM Cards, the applicant must present a valid letter from the Uganda Police Force confirming loss of the customer's SIM Card,” the statement quotes Mutabazi, adding that, or non-Ugandans, Telecom Operators must STRICTLY observe particular conditions which are listed below:

 l. The applicant for a SIM Card, whether new or replacement, must physically appear and present his or her original Passport to the operators designated customer service center.

2. Non Ugandans shall only be allowed to purchase SIM Cards upon the production of an Original valid passport, with a valid visa or resident permit.

3. The non-Ugandan applicant should present a recent passport photograph, which shall be attached to the SIM Card registration form.

4. The SIM Card issued should only be active for the period of the validity of the customer's Visa or resident permit. The Operator must deactivate the SIM Card upon expiry of the customer's Visa or resident permit.

Ugandans advised

Meanwhile, Ugandan nationals without valid National Identification cards are advised to contact NIRA for guidance on the registration process and obtain National Identification Cards before they may be allowed to acquire, upgrade or replace SIM Cards.

“The Commission reminds all operators to STRICTLY comply with all the aforesaid conditions. Operators shall be individually held liable for any SIM Card registered, upgraded or replaced contrary to these guidelines,” Mutabazi said in the statement.

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