Police officers attached to the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) last week arrested a Ugandan woman who has been cited in several illegal radio frequency deals and installations across the country.
The middle-aged suspect, whose name has not been disclosed for fear of jeopardizing the ongoing investigations, is reported to be part of a big group of individuals who forge letters purportedly from UCC and defraud unsuspecting Ugandans by promising to help them obtain radio frequencies.
Tipped off by concerned players in the industry, the UCC investigations team tracked the suspect for over one month before eventually arresting her.
Uganda Communications Commission is mandated under Section 5(1)(c) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 to allocate, license, standardize and manage the use of the radio frequency spectrum resources in a manner that ensures the widest variety of programming and optimal utilization of spectrum resources.
According to Section 21 of the Act, a person shall not, without a licence issued by UCC:
- i) Establish or use any radio station or provide radio communication services;
- ii) Possess, install, connect or operate any radio communications apparatus or interference-causing apparatus.
Now in Police custody, the suspect is likely to be charged with a range of offences, including uttering forged documents, illegal installation of radio stations, forgery and impersonation. If found guilty, the suspect could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.
To this, UCC has warned the public, particularly those seeking radio frequencies, to beware of fraudsters promising them radio frequencies and licenses outside the well-established regulatory processes.
According to UCC, a person interested in offering FM radio broadcasting services in Uganda is required to submit a formal expression of interest to UCC in writing.
“This expression of interest should highlight the type of planned programming content (such as music, news, education, sports, etc), the planned location of the FM radio station, and the desired geographical area(s) of coverage,” UCC spokesperson, Ibrahim Bbosa says.
He adds that on receipt of this expression of interest, UCC will study the availability of radio spectrum in the geographical area highlighted and advise accordingly.
“Where radio spectrum is available, a reservation is made by UCC and the applicant is duly advised to progress with the submission of relevant documents, including a Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum and Articles of Association, Business Plan, Financial Statements and Tax Clearance Certificates, among others,” he explained.
Mr. Bbosa says successful completion of the application process is dependent on the application containing all the required information.
“If an application is found satisfactory by UCC, the successful applicant shall then be advised and required to pay the applicable annual license fees (dependent on the area of coverage), spectrum fees and type approval fees,” he said, adding, “This must be fulfilled before the issuance of a radio broadcasting license and operating certificate, spectrum authorization (which includes frequency assignment), type approval certificates for broadcasting equipment, and commencement of business.”