Update: Confusion looms over unregistered SIM card disconnection in Uganda

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Previous title: Uganda switches off 2.5 million unregistered SIM-cards

UPDATE: Confusion looms over SIM card disconnection as many unregistered cards are reported to be currently functioning. I called the Orange customer care number and I was told that the SIM cards were disconnected.  However, reports from friends and social media indicate that MTN and Warid/Airtel unregistered SIM cards are fully functional. Attempts to reach Uganda communications commission have proven futile.

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Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) disconnected about 2,500,000 un-registered SIM-cards at 00:00 hours on 31st August, technically known as Subscriber Indentity Module cards.

The registration of SIM card exercise commenced on 1st March 2012 under the enactment of the of the Interception of Communication Act which provides for the registration of existing SIM cards. However, the previous deadlines set for the registration exercise were postponed for a record three times until on 31st August. Also, an injunction applied for by the Human Rights Network for  Journalists couldn’t hamper the disconnection exercise from taking place this time.

Uganda Communications Commission however says the registration exercise can continue for those people who have had their cell phones disconnected.

The campaign is a prerequisite to regional integration under the East African Community. So far, Kenya, Tanzania and Rwanda ha s successfully implemented the SIM card registration policy.

Geoffrey Mutabazi, UCC’s executive director argues that registering SIM cards is a move to aimed at improving domestic security since Uganda does not have a national identity database of its citizens and the government believes that this initiative is necessary to “protect the interests of those who are victims and potential victims of those who abuse the privilege of telecommunications”.

Telecommunications providers including MTN, Airtel, Warid, Orange, UTL, Smiles and I-telecom have reported more than 85% registration success.

Image via Humanipo