There are at least 4 million subscribers that are unaccounted for in Uganda, this is according to the statistic presented by the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA). The queried subscribers are spread among the five major telecoms companies; MTN, Airtel, Africell, Vodafone and UTL.
Vincent Bagiire, the permanent secretary, ministry of ICT and National Guidance, revealed to parliamentary committees that out of the 31.4 million subscriber numbers submitted to NIRA for verification, four million Sim cards cannot be linked to particular individuals or companies.
Out of the 16.9 million subscribers submitted by MTN, 15.9 million could be varied and 2.5 million Sim cards cannot be linked to any individuals. For Airtel, 941,000 cannot be tied to any individual out of the 11.2 million numbers submitted while Africell has 542, 111 unaccounted for Sim cards out of the three million numbers submitted to NIRA. Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL) submitted 236,891 numbers for verification but 22,434 are unaccounted for while Vodafone has 1,435 subscribers unaccounted for.
Bagiire explained that the “ghost” numbers could have been brought about by some subscribers submitting wrong numbers into the system.
According to the government, the biggest suspicion falls on some agents who may be Sim-boxing, a term, which refers to fraudsters effectively bypassing the interconnect toll charging points to exploit the difference between the high interconnection rates and the low retail price for on-network calls.
Deadline for Sim Card verification using the National Identity card was extended from May 19 2017 to August 30 2017 in order to allow more time for telecoms to complete the verification exercise of subscribers who had not yet applied for or received their Identification details from NIRA.