It has been over six days and millions of Ugandans have had their phones disconnected after the expiry of the deadline to have their SIM cards registered and verified. The Executive Director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Godfrey Mutabazi has now directed all the telecom companies to reactivate all the SIM cards that were switched off on Friday 19th 2017.
“The should be switched back as soon as possible as per the directive of his excellency the president. So within a couple of hours from now, everybody should be back on air. Especially those people those people who were disconnected on Friday. ” Mr Mutabazi said.
Telecoms is not like switching on an app
Speaking to the Airtel Managing Director yesterday, Mr Anwar Soussa he said that “We are in the process of switching those customers back on. Hopefully in the next few hours they will be back on”. “Telecoms is not like switching off an app, its not like you can go in and block a customer, these things take a long time. These systems are very large and their complex. So use to for example to detach customers from the network it’d take anyway where between 10 and 20 hours and to put them on it takes equally as long” Mr Anwar further explained.
This comes after president’s directive extending the period of registration for more 90 days. There has also been a contention on why people who had registered their SIM cards were also switched off.
The blame game
Mutabazi says the National Identity Registration Authority (NIRA), is to blame. “There were some challenges with NIRA because there were some delays. For sure there were some delays, it’d take minimum of 2 days and for new registrations am told it could take 2 weeks even beyond. So, the telecos would wait until they get that clearance from NIRA and therefore inconveniencing people”. Mr Mutabazi said.
Telecom companies are also counting loses following the deactivation of SIM cards. Airtel Managing Director expects an impact on revenue, impact in terms of Airtel Money transactions although he was bullish on giving out the exact figures of the loses made as the company had not yet done the “math behind it”.
Less than 90 days to “final” deadline
Ugandans now have less than 90 days to validate their registration particulars according to the presidential directive. Ugandans will continue to use their National Identity cards, non Ugandans Passports and refugees shall rely on cards and letters from the prime minister’s office.