The government has disregarded Members of Parliament who yesterday passed a motion to extend the deadline to verify Sim cards as many mobile phone owners battled to meet the deadline of tonight.
In April, the Uganda Police and Uganda Communications Commission issued a 7-day ultimatum for Ugandans to verify their Sim cards using their National ID details, as a measure of fighting increased crime in the country.After a huge outcry this deadline was extended for a month.
However, Minister for ICT, Mr Frank Tumwebaze flanked by UCC’s Director Industry Affairs, Mr. Tumubweinee Twinemanzi revealed at Uganda Media Centre on Friday afternoon that Ugandans should be vigilant since national security is for the good of all.
“As a national security measure, government embarked on the exercise, instructions were given to all telecom companies through the regulator (UCC) to enforce the exercise,” Tumwebaze said adding, “We (government) will switch off voice communication for unregistered sim cards at midnight.”
If government goes ahead with the planned de-activation of the sim cards, nearly seven out of the 21 million phone subscribers risk being switched off tonight.
Many people use their phones to facilitate financial transactions.
UCC’s Tumubweinee to TheUgandan that government had also addressed the big issue raised by parliament yesterday about loss of money as Mobile Money services being crippled by switching off unregistered subscribers.
“As a measure to mitigate the loss of money for those with mobile money deposits, the service will not be switched off for the unregistered, Mr. Tumubweinee clarified. “A transition period will be allowed for those mobile money customers to withdraw their balances or transfer them to registered sim cards or to their banks.”
Telecoms will not, however, be allowed to let their customers load or deposit mobile money to unregistered sim cards after tonight’s switch off.
“Government would like to assure the citizens and honorable MPs that no funds deposited on Mobile Money will be lost in this exercise,” the government said.
“While withdrawing or transfer of Mobile Money balances on unregistered numbers will be enabled, loading and depositing of more money will be disabled on the unverified ones.”
While Ugandans are required to re-register their Sim cards with government-issued ID cards, but many people do not have them.
“While the switch off will disable voice communication on the affected sim cards, the exercise of verification continues, basically new National ID applicants with registration forms will be allowed to register in the interim,” Tumwebaze said.
UCC has allocated NIRA a short code *216# to enable them to know the status of their registration process.