Uganda Halts Sale of SIM Cards as Government Revises Registration Regulations


Uganda has been on the forefront in ensuring that its ICT regulator, the Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) enforces its mandate, an activity that encompasses several duties, including tasking mobile carriers to perform their duties in line with set regulations.

UCC’s latest attempt in ensuring all SIM cards are registered correctly was marked by a temporary axe on SIM sales. The development was announced late last week. Notably, country’s top carriers such as Airtel and MTN Uganda have since complied to the directive to recall their SIM cards from distribution by hawkers, street vendors, agents, among other channels that are not licensed by the Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) or any other town authority. At the same time, the ban calls for the deactivation of pre-activated/registered cards that are in stock.

The authority (UCC) maintains that the sale of SIM cards will resume as soon as it has access to the National Identification and Registration Authority database to ensure that registration details are authentic and match ID details.

It is worth noting that these actions have been fuelled by crime cases in the country, where criminals demand ransom using dubious lines that cannot be traced. A number of publicized kidnappings and murders in Uganda have angered regulators, and this has forced their hand to implement stringent regulation as far as SIM registration is concerned.

During last week’s FT Arica Payments Innovation Summit that was held in Nairobi, some IT and Fintech businesses mentioned that Uganda regulators had revised a set of requirements needed for operations, a development that is thought to originate from the aforementioned criminal activities.

The Ugandan Government is pursuing the establishment of the Central Equipment Identification Register (CEIR) and create channels for its locals to verify registration details of lines. The exercise will also entail API integration carriers’ networks and installation of CEIR, a process that will be overseen by UCC reps.

Upon completion, carriers will have facilities to deny network access of SIM cards that fail to meet UCC’s approval requirements. Telcos will be punished if their agents fraudulently register lines.