Uganda, just like many other African nations, has implemented a SIM registration policy where mobile phone users are forced to register their SIM cards with the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in order to reduce crimes committed with fraudulent SIM cards.
However, the Uganda Human Rights Network (HRN) and Legal Brains Trust has taken the government to task over the registration process and has proceeded to take the Uganda Communications Commission to court over the legalities of the process, as the cut-off date for registration loomed on Saturday (31 August).
On Friday High court Judge Yasin Nyanzi ruled in favour of the Uganda Communications Commission, stating that the Uganda Human Rights Network and Legal Brains Trust failed to prove their case.
“… there are criminals and like-minded people who would not like to register their Simcards irrespective of the circumstances,” the judge said during the proceedings. The HRH and Legal Brains Trust said that the UCC had no legal right to disconnect SIM cards that weren’t registered by the prescribed date – as over a million SIM cards still needed to be registered.
According to The Observer, “SIM card registration in Uganda is part of a regional exercise. Under the umbrella body called the East Africa Communications Organisation (EACO), the East Africa region set mid 2012 as the deadline to have all existing SIM cards registered.”
The UCC also added that they had already reached their goal of registering over 90% of the SIM cards in Uganda as of August 30, which reflects a 70 per cent increase since March this year.
The Observer reported that UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi said he was not surprised by the outcome of the petition since UCC was acting within the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act of 2010.
Mutabazi stressed that no extensions on the deadline would be made, even though 8% of the estimated 17 million mobile phone subscribers in Uganda have not yet registered their SIM cards.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor