Open Letter to UCC | Sim-card Registration Deadline — Do Ugandans Living In Diaspora Really Matter?

Posted May 11, 2017 by Ugandan Diaspora News Team in Open Letter to UCC ~ 2,234 views


Dear Uganda Communication Commission,

On April 11, 2017 the Commission, directed that all SIM cards be verified and validated against the National Identification and Registration Authority database using the National Identification Numbers for citizens and passports for alien residents within seven days, effective April 13, 2017 to April 20, 2017. The exercise was then extended by the Commission to May 19, 2017.

For their efforts we thank the UCC management for getting the SIM card verification exercise underway as a way to minimize crime in Uganda. However I am writing to inform the Commission that most of us in the diaspora have been kept in the dark about this process. Many of us depend on our cell phone numbers that originated in Uganda for business, family welfare and often leave the numbers active after relocating abroad. These are numbers that have been previously registered and whose details are now stored by many of the service providers. My question is, do we Ugandans living in the diaspora matter in this SIM card registration process?

With the advent of mobile money technology many diaspora community members, to avoid traveling with large sums, now utilize the services of World Remit and Wave money transfer apps to transfer funds to their mobile money accounts prior to their travel home. Other diaspora community members also rely on this service to pay bills for schools, water, power, etc. back home for their family members while others leave funds on their phones to avoid deactivation.

That means that many in the diaspora are now utilizing the convenience of mobile money when they travel. I wish to draw attention to the fact that some will not be traveling home till the December or Summer holidays. The deadline therefore set by UCC to de-register SIM cards is somewhat ill-advised since we in the diaspora were not notified or offered alternatives in spite of all the remittances and contributions we make to our national economy.

We at Ugandan Diaspora News have received numerous inquiries from various community members who had left money on their mobile accounts, including some who planned to travel back home to Uganda very soon. There was a general concern by some who did not want to lose their local business contacts so I decided to reach out to MTN, the leading provider of mobile money services in Uganda, who informed me that the decision on SIM card verification and validation was made by UCC in conjunction security agencies in the country — independent of their business entity.

After some back and forth communication with the Chief Customer Officer of MTN Uganda we were advised that the funds left on phones by the diaspora would be frozen following the exercise and also informed by MTN that they had been advised by UCC that the Diaspora registration process would also be carried out by Uganda embassies abroad.  See link below full MTN press release.

Armed with an official communication I then tried to reach out to our embassy in Washington to see if any communication had been forwarded by government to the missions for action. An embassy official promised to research the matter and get back to me with a definite position after consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was about two weeks ago and to date we have neither received any new information that directly addresses diaspora concerns regarding the SIM card registration process or seen any guidelines for the diaspora on both the UCC or Diaspora Services Department Website.

I therefore request that with the upcoming SIM registration deadline, given our inability to travel home abruptly to fulfill the request and having no national identity cards issued with the National Identification Numbers active, we need a quick resolution and support of both the Committee on Foreign Affairs of Parliament, Diaspora Desk at MOFA, National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) and the various stakeholders in the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration) together with the Uganda Communication Commission to help fast track this process. At the annual diaspora conventions we see big government delegations traveling to address these conventions sometimes with little or no value addition but i think its about time our government changed its approach to diaspora matters especially in addressing the real concerns we face in doing business with Kampala.

The diaspora community, given its strong role in the Ugandan economy and the sheer volume of transactions emanating from the diaspora, should be active partners whose input and contribution is sought by various stakeholders. UCC and the government should think through this process before disconnecting the many hardworking Ugandans living and working abroad that might miss the validation exercise. The embassy in Kenya has registered many of its nationals in the diaspora giving them National IDs in relation to processing their travel documents and issuing passports. This is because their government recognizes the impact of the Kenyan diaspora on their economy.

Hoping to hear from UCC and the various stakeholders on how the Diaspora concerns will be addressed prior to the upcoming deadline!

Most sincerely,

— Ronnie Mayanja
Ugandan Diaspora News | |
Ugandan Diaspora Network | Event website | |
US | +1-978-235-2459 | UG +256-773-212-007 | +256- 794-999-898 |
Skype | ronnie.mayanja | Twitter | @rmayanja

About the Author

Ugandan Diaspora News Team

Ugandan Diaspora News Online is an independent, non political news portal primarily aimed at serving Ugandans who work and reside outside Uganda. Our aim is to be a one stop shop for everything Ugandan and the celebration of our Ugandan heritage.


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