By Franklin Draku and Betty Alobo
Kampala — The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has directed all telecom companies to verify the identity of their subscribers who hold multiple phone SIM cards.
Officials from the UCC say the verification exercise is aimed at ensuring the national identification numbers (NIN) on the National Identity cards match the ownership of SIM cards.
They say during the registration and verification exercises, many people registered their SIM cards using the NINs of their relatives, friends and in some instances the agents.
Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, said the Commission directive to the telecom companies is for regular SIM card verification.
“That is an evaluation exercise which the telecom companies are required to carry out on regular basis. It is a mandatory requirement,” Mr Mutabazi said. The Commission’s director for Industry Affairs and Content, Ms Julianne Mweheire, said the verification exercise targets people who registered using other people’s ID numbers.
“These messages are only being sent out to people with multiple numbers registered in their names, and so telecom companies are doing is to ensure that everybody’s name is corresponding to the national ID numbers, for improved security.”
For the last one week MTN Uganda has been sending messages to subscribers asking them to go and verify their registration status personally. “Y’ello. You have more than one number registered under your NIN. Please visit any MTN Shop or Duuka with your National ID to confirm them,” the message reads.
Ms Mweheire also said those who are out of the country will have an option availed to them for verification of their SIM card registration.
“People who are abroad are catered for, because there are several provisions in place for doing the verification from wherever they are. Besides, the process is not going to be as complex as that of registration, but it is a very simple process which Ugandans should not be worried about,” Ms Mweheire said.
Mr Gordian Kyomukama, the MTN acting Chief Executive Officer, said the verification is already ongoing to ensure all those who own SIM cards are registered using their identification numbers.
“It is a normal ongoing process. It is to ensure the security of subscribers. We shall continue with the process to ensure that every subscriber number is verified,” he said.
Mr Kyomukama said all the telecom companies will meet UCC next Monday to work out modalities on how to implement the verification exercise.
When asked how the people who are out of the country and those who will not beat the deadline will be handled Mr Kyomukama said “we shall handle all these issues when we meet with the regulator next week. We shall raise it to them to ensure that people are given adequate time to carry out the exercise.”
Other telecom companies are yet to respond on how they will implement the directive. Airtel Uganda, Africell and UTL had not responded to our inquiries by the time of filing this story.