MTN, Airtel stop sale of SIM cards with immediate effect

Airtel, MTN has stopped the sale of SIM cards in Uganda

Major mobile phone service providers in Uganda have responded to tough new rules targeting criminal use of unregistered SIM cards by halting sales.

The telecomms companies have also been ordered to recall “all SIM cards held in stock by street vendors, agents and hawkers”.

Under the new rules, Uganda’s Communications Commission says, mobile phone service providers will have to “validate national identification information” for its customers which will then be “verified against the national database”.

Both MTN and Airtel – the biggest of Uganda’s eight mobile service providers – have tweeted the news to their customers:

“Effective immediately, MTN Uganda will cease the sell of new SIM Cards as we work with NIRA & UCC to implement the necessary technical requirements for us to comply with UCC’s new guidelines on the sale of SIM Cards.

“MTN regrets any inconvenience caused,” the statement read in part.

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Airtel tweeted its statement as well. “Following Directives issued by UCC, we notify our esteemed Customers, Distributors, Staff, Stakeholders and the general public, that Airtel, Airtel Uganda has temporarily stopped the Sale of Airtel SIM Cards until further notice.

“This notice takes immediate effect. Management.”

Uganda’s minister of information and communications technology told reporters on Thursday that unregistered SIM card were sometimes used by criminals to hide their identities.

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