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UCC Lifts Suspension on Sim Card Registration

The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has lifted the suspension on the sale and registration of SIM Cards to corporate bodies which it had halted on 26th June, 2020.

“The Commission refers to the letter dated 26th June 2020, wherein all telecom operators were directed to SUSPEND the sale of SIM Cards to corporate bodies including companies, Non-Government Organisations, Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government and other unnatural persons.”

“Further reference is made to the meeting of 19th August 2020 whereat the Commission presented and received comments from operators regarding the proposals that were made by the Commission to improve Corporate SIM Card registration processes in Uganda.” reads part of the statement from UCC

As the Commission concludes the development of operational guidelines for Corporate SIM Card registration in Uganda, the Commission has, in accordance with its statutory mandate under sections 5(1)(b) & (j), 39, 48 and schedule 6(I)(K) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013 and Section 9 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010, LIFTED the suspension on the sale of SIM Cards to unnatural persons including corporate bodies, subject to strict compliance with the following conditions:

The procedure for sale and registration of SIM Card to unnatural persons shall only be limited to the following entities or bodies:

Companies duly incorporated or registered under the Companies Act 2012.

Non-GovernmentalOrganisations duly authorised and permitted to operate in Uganda in accordance with the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2016.

Trusts duly incorporated or registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act Cap 165.

Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government, duly constituted in accordance with the laws of Uganda.

Embassies, Foreign Missions and Consulates, duly recognised in Uganda by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Before a telecommunication operator registers a SIM Card for any eligible body or entity as specified in (1) above, the operator must comply with the following specific requirements.

Before selling a SIM Card to a company incorporated under the Companies Act 2012, a telecommunication operator shall obtain the following details from the company:

A certified copy of the companies’ certificate of incorporation.

Certified copy of the Particulars of the Directors of the Company.

Certified copy of the Form showing the registered location/place of business of the Company.

A copy of the companies’ Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority.

A copy of the National Identity Card of the Managing Directors or Chief Executive officer of the Company, if Ugandan citizen, or a copy of a valid Passport for a foreign Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer. The Passport must contain a valid visa or immigration status as indicated in the passport. For nationals of the East African Community, a copy of a valid passport shall suffice;

A letter on the company’s letterhead signed by the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer authorising the purchase of the subject SIM Card(s) by the Company, and the purpose for which the SIM Cards are being purchased.

The Telecommunications operator shall carry out a company search at the Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) to certify the authenticity of the company documents provided by the applicant for a corporate SIM Card before the corporate SIM cards are activated. The cost of conducting a company search shall be borne by the company applying for SIM cards.

The Telecom operators shall only issue the SIM card to the company after receiving confirmation from URSB about the authenticity of the company documents provided.

Before selling a SIM Card to a Non-Governmental Organisation registered under the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2016, a telecommunication service provider shall obtain the following details from the company:

A certified copy of the NGO’s permit and a letter of good standing from the NGO Bureau.

A letter signed by the Accounting officer of the NGO addressed to a specific telecommunications operator requesting to acquire SIM cards. The letter must specify the purpose for which the SIM Cards are sought to be acquired.

A copy of the NGO’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority, if not exempted. For NGOs that are exempted from taxes, evidence of such exemption from URA must be obtained.

A copy of the National Identity Card of the Accounting Officer of the NGO, if Ugandan citizen, or a copy of a valid Passport, if foreign, including a copy of a valid visa or immigration status as indicated in the passport. For nationals of the East African Community, a copy of a valid passport shall suffice.

The Telecommunications operator shall carry out a search at the NGO Bureau to certify the authenticity of documents submitted before the corporate SIM Cards are activated.

The cost of conducting the search about the NGO shall be borne by the NGO applying for SIM cards.

Before selling a SIM Card to a Ministry, Department or Agency of Government in Uganda, a telecommunication service provider shall obtain the following details from the entity:

A letter from the accounting officer of the Ministry, Department or Agency of Government requesting a specific telecom operator to sale a specified number of SIM Cards to the Ministry, Department or Agency of Government. For Ministries and Departments of Government, the letter must be signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry under which the particular entity falls. For statutory agencies or other bodies of government, the letter must be signed by the Accounting Officer of the MDA. The letter must specify the purpose for which the SIM Cards are sought to be acquired.

A copy of the National Identity Cards of the Accounting officer of the subject MDA.

The telecommunication service provider must conduct due diligence to confirm the authenticity of the documents received from the MDA. This can be undertaken by reaching out to the MDA for confirmation of the request received.

Before selling a SIM Card to an Embassy, Foreign Mission or consulate in Uganda, a telecommunication service provider shall obtain the following details from the entity:

A Letter of introduction from the Ambassador, Consular or Head of Mission, indicating the reasons why the SIM Card is being sought to be acquired.

Where the SIM Card is intended to be used by an individual working for the Embassy, Foreign Mission or Consulate, the individual must register the SIM Card in his or her name, using his or her passport in accordance with the Directives on biometric registration for individuals.

Where the letter in (i) above shows that the SIM is to be used by the Embassy, Consulate or Foreign Mission for official purposes, the telecommunications service provider must obtain a copy of a valid Passport for the person nominated by the Embassy, Foreign Mission or consulate to be responsible for the proper use of the subject SIM Card(s). The passport must include a copy of a valid visa or immigration status as indicated in the passport. For nationals of the East African Community, a copy of a valid passport shall suffice.

An email from the Head of the Embassy, Foreign mission or Consulate to the subject telecom operator confirming the application for SIM Card(s) by the Embassy, Foreign Mission or Consulate, as the case may be.

The telecommunication service provider must conduct due diligence to confirm the authenticity of the documents received from the Mission, Embassy or Consulate as the case may be. This can be undertaken through reaching out to the entity’s offices for confirmation of the request received.

Before selling a SIM Card to an entity registered under the Trustees Incorporation Act Cap 165, a telecommunication service provider shall obtain the following details from the company:

A certified copy of the certificate of incorporation of the Trust issued by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.

Certified copies of the Trust Deedj constitution of the Trust.

A letter signed by the Accounting Officer or Administrator of the Trust addressed to a specific telecommunications operator requesting to acquire SIM cards. The letter must specify the purpose for which the SIM Cards are sought to be acquired.

A copy of the Trust’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority, if not exempted. For Trusts that are exempted from taxes, evidence of such exemption from URA must be obtained.

A copy of the National Identity Card of the Accounting Officer or Administrator of the Trust, if Ugandan citizen, or a copy of a valid Passport of the foreign director or accounting including a copy of a valid visa or immigration status as indicated in the passport. For nationals of the East African Community, a copy of a valid passport shall suffice.

The Telecommunications operator shall carry out a search at the Ministry of Lands Housing and Urban Development and or the Uganda Registration Service Bureau to confirm the authenticity of documents submitted before the corporate SIM card(s) is activated. The applicant shall bear the cost of conducting a search about the Trust for SIM cards.

For the avoidance of doubt, the procedure for corporate SIM Card registration shall not include registration and Sale of SIM Cards to Partnerships, Firms, Sole proprietorships and registered business names. Where a telecommunication service provider receives a request for sale of SIM Card from a firm, partnership, sole proprietorship or any other business association with no separate legal personality, the telecom operator shall advise the individuals behind such business association to acquire the SIM Cards in their names, using the procedure applicable to individuals.

In addition to the above specific requirements, each telecommunication operator must always:

Ascertain the purpose for which an eligible body has applied for SIM Card(s) in its name.

Where the SIM Card(s) is to be used by an individual/employee of the company, or entity, the telecom operator must decline to register the SIM Card as a corporate registration and instead advise the individual intended to use the SIM Card to be the one to acquire it in his or her name using his National ID, for Ugandans, or Passport, for foreigners.

All sales of SIM cards to corporate bodies must not be outsourced and must be done at the designated operator’s customer service centres.

Each Telecommunications Operator shall register a maximum of 100 Corporate SIM Cards on its network. Where an eligible corporate body requests to acquire more than 100 (One Hundred) SIM Cards on any telecom operator’s network, the telecom operator must advise the corporate body to seek for express written approval from the Commission.

The request must contain clear reasons why exceptional approval must be provided. The maximum number of 100 SIM Cards allowed on each telecom operator’s network is applicable whether the SIM Cards are applied for at once or cumulatively over a period of time in the name of the subject corporate body or entity.

No telecom operator should sell and/or otherwise make available a SIM Card to any entity without complying with this Directive.

Each telecommunications Operators must develop and submit to the Commission detailed guidelines on Corporate SIM Card registration. The guidelines must be submitted to the Commission within 30 days from the date hereof.

All telecommunication service providers must, within thirty (30) days from the date of issuance of this Directive, audit their existing Corporate SIM Card database and undertake necessary steps to harmonise and align it with this Directive. The audit and alignment process must be concluded within ninety (90) days from the date of thereof.

The Commission appreciates the operator’s cooperation in this endeavour to enhance security in the SIM Card registration process. Please do contact the Commission if you need any further clarification and/or guidance on this matter.

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