Why are some telecoms still selling unregistered SIM cards?

With about a fortnight to the deadline given by communications regulator UCC for all telecoms to have SIM cards used on their mobile networks registered, one can still buy an unregistered SIM card off the streets of Kampala as if they were buying a Rolex. (And we are not talking about the luxury watch). Thanks to a feature story last night on NTV, a news reporter was able to buy an unregistered Africell SIM card by the roadside, and life went on as usual. You can see all the drama unfold in the above video footage. This begs to ask the burning question, Why are some telecoms still selling unregistered SIM cards? Is the competition that cut throat, that they’d rather be fined by UCC all in the name of skipping the SIM card registration process in order to accumulate more mobile subscribers?

After MTN Nigeria was fined over $5 billion by the country’s communication regulator NCC, a move that later led to the resignation of the MTN Group CEO, one would think that this move by UCC would awake the Telecoms to get serious about selling unregistered SIM cards. In fact, we are supposed to be seeing campaigns by telecoms reminding their subscribers to register their SIMs in order to avoid any future UCC fines. So far MTN has taken the forefront on such campaigns,  since it has over 11 millions subscribers this means that even having to switch off 10% of that subscriber base will result in plummeting of the company’s revenues.

According to the UCC, there should not be any unregistered SIMs traded in the market. In an interview with NTV Uganda, UCC ED Godfrey Mutabazi said;

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[signoff icon=”quote-circled”]We believe that two years one, thee have had enough time to clean up. So what we have told these telecoms is that by the end of this month they should have cleaned up everything. We won’t allow any more unregistered SIM cards. For us we are going to start enforcement. [/signoff]

So whether this is just hogwash from UCC or the regulator will for the first time be serious about enforcing something, is yet to be seen.


Video Credit: NTV Uganda