THE UGANDA COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES ON SIM CARD REGISTRATION IN UGANDA

BACKGROUND

The Uganda Communications Commission (the Commission) was established under section 4 of the Uganda Communications Act, 2013 (the Act) as the regulator for the development of a modern communications sector that includes telecommunications, broadcasting, radio communications, postal communications, data communication and infrastructure.

In accordance with sections 5, 21, 22 and 39 of the Act and Regulations 7 and 97 of the Uganda Communications (Licensing) Regulations 2019, the Commission is mandated to license, monitor, control and set standards for all providers of telecommunications services in Uganda.

Regulation of communications services is intended to facilitate the protection of the public against the risks associated with poor quality, illegal and unreliable provision of communication services.

LEGAL OBLIGATION TO REGISTER SIM CARD USERS

Section 9 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Act 2010(RICA) obliges all telecommunication service providers to ensure that before they enter into contract with any person for the provision of telecommunication services, such a person is duly registered.

Section 9 of RICA provides thus:

Duties of a telecommunication service provider in relation to the customer.

  1. Before a telecommunication service provider enters into a contract with any person for the provision of a telecommunication service to that person, it shall obtain-
    • The person’s full name, residential address, business address, postal address and his or her identity number contained in his or her identity document, if applicable.
    • In the case where the person is a business organisation, its business name and address and the manner in which it is incorporated or registered.
    • Any other information which the telecommunication service provider deems necessary for the purpose of enabling it to comply with this Act.
  2. The telecommunication service providers shall ensure that existing subscribers register their SIM-Cards within a period of six months from the date of commencement of the Act.
  3. The telecommunication service provider shall ensure that proper records are kept of the information referred to in subsection (1) and any change in such information.

This obligation is further restated in Regulation 7 of the Regulation of Interception of Communications Instrument No. 42 of 2011, which goes on to emphasise that a telecommunications service provider must obtain identification details about any person seeking to enter into a contract for the provision of telecommunication services in Uganda.

According to 81 42 of 2011, a wide range of identification documents could be accepted by an operator as evidence of someone’s identification.

Following the coming into force of the Registration of Persons Act 2015 and the Registration of Persons Regulations 81 67 of 2015, it became mandatory that the primary identification document that must be used for purposes of SIMM Card registration in Uganda is a National Identity Card.

Regulation 28 (l)(i) of the Registration of Persons Regulations 2015 stipulates that a National Identification Card or Alien’s identification card shall be used as the identification document in the process for registration of SIM Cards in Uganda.

The Commission has, in the exercise of its powers under the Act, issued numerous directives to operators guiding them on the requirements for SIM Card registration for the different categories of customers.

Download the guidelines here

RATIONALE FOR THE SIM CARD REGISTRATION GUIDELINES

SIM Cards have become a critical tool for the provision and enjoyment of ICT services in Uganda. Unfortunately, SIM Cards have also become a common weapon for Commission of offences.

The purpose of these Guidelines, therefore, is to:

  • Prescribe the operational requirements for the registration of SIM Cards for the different categories of customers including Ugandan nationals, foreigners, refugees and corporate bodies.
  • Set requirements for operators to verify information provided by applicants for SIM Cards.
  • Harmonise the different directives and processes for SIM Card registration, SIM swapping and/replacement issued by the Commission and consolidate them into these Guidelines.

REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION/ REPLACEMENT OF SIM CARD IN THE NAME OF UGANDANS

As earlier guided in the Directives that were previously issued by the Commission, before registering a SIM in the name of any Ugandan national, the telecommunication service provider(Operator)must comply with the following requirements:

  1. A customer seeking to register a SIM Card in his or her name must physically appear before the Operator’s designated SIM Card selling point.
  2. The customer must present an original National Identification Card, which must be verified by the SIM Card selling officer using a two-stage authentication process through (i) an electronic biometric card reader records, and (ii) submission of agreed fields to National Identity Registration Authority. The national ID shall be kept as part of the customer’s KYC.
  3. Every Operator must have a functional Electronic Biometric Card Reader machine at every SIM Card selling point.
  4. The Operator must verify the particular of the National Identification Card using an Electronic Biometric Card Reader, match the applicant’s live biometrics with the biometrics on the card, and obtain real-time verification with the NIRA database through the API.
  5. For the avoidance of doubt, where, for whatever reason, the Operator is unable to conduct online real-time verification of the customer’s information with NIRA’s national ID database, the Operator should not proceed with the issuance, upgrade or replacement of the SIM Card.
  6. The Operator must obtain a clear photograph of the applicant for each SIM Card.
  7. The Operator must ensure that the applicant for a SIM Card signs on the application form. The signature may be physical or digital, for as long as its authenticity is verified and witnessed by the Operator’s authorised officer, who must indicate his or her name, title and append a signature to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the customer.
  8. Upon completion of the verification process, the Operator must indicate on the application form in (6) above, the telephone number that has been assigned to the particular customer.

Replacing, Swapping or Upgrade of SIM Cards.

Every Operator shall comply with the following requirements before replacing, swapping or upgrading of a SIM Card:

  1. SIM Card replacement, swapping or upgrade shall be done at customer service centres manned and directly operated by the telecom operators at designated customer service centres. For the avoidance of doubt, operators shall not replace/swap customer’s SIM Cards at their agent’s shops.
  2. The applicant for SIM Card replacement, swapping or upgrade must physically appear at the Operator’s customer service centre.
  3. The applicant for SIM Card replacement, swapping or upgrade must be the person in whose name the SIM Card was registered at the time of its loss or damage.
  4. The applicant must produce a valid letter from the Uganda Police Force confirming the loss of the applicant’s SIM Card. Where an applicant is replacing a damaged SIM card, there will be no need for a letter from the Uganda Police Force; instead, the applicant shall produce the damaged SIM card at the point of registration and surrender it to the Telecom operator before the same can be replaced.
  5. In the case of a Ugandan citizen, the applicant must produce an original National Identity Card. The Operator must retain a copy of the National ID for each SIM replacement/ swap.
  6. The Operator must verify the authenticity of the National Identification Card using the Electronic Biometric Card Reader machine. The Biometric results must indicate a match before a new SIM Card is issued to the applicant.
  7. In the case of afore gin national, the applicant must produce an original Passport. The Operator must make and retain copies of the Bio, and visa pages for the Passport for each applicant served. The replacement Swapped or upgraded SIM Card shall only be valid for the period of the customer’s legal stay in Uganda.
  8. In all instances for Ugandan citizens and foreign nationals, the Operator must obtain a fresh Photograph of the applicant. The Operator must re-register the applicant for the SIM card swap/replacement.

Download the guidelines here

REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION AND REPLACEMENT OF SIM CARD IN THE NAME OF NATIONALS FROM EAST AFRICA AND FOREIGN COUNTRIES

As provided for in the Directives that were previously issued by the Commission, before registering a SIM in the name of any person from any partner state of the East African Community, the telecommunication service provider(Operator)must comply with the following requirements:

  1. The East African national seeking to obtain a SIM Card in his or her name must produce a copy of his valid Passport.
  2. The Telecom operator shall obtain and retain a copy of the Bio and visa pages(including the page with the entry stamp from immigration) of the Passport.
  3. The Operator must obtain a clear photograph of the applicant for each SIM Card.
  4. The Operator must ensure that the applicant for a SIM Card signs on the application form. The signature may be physical or digital, for as long as its authenticity is verified and witnessed by the Operator’s authorised officer, who must also add his or her name, title and signature to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the customer.
  5. The SIM Card registered in the name of an East African must be valid for only the period of such person’s legal stay in Uganda.

For nationals from other foreign countries, the Operator shall obtain the following mandatory requirements:

  1. The foreign national seeking to obtain a SIM Card in his or her name must produce a copy of his valid Passport.
  2. The Telecom operator shall obtain and retain a copy of the Passport.
  3. The Operator must obtain a clear photograph of the applicant for each SIM Card.
  4. The Operator must ensure that the foreign applicant for a SIM Card signs on the application form. The signature may be physical or digital, for as long as its authenticity is verified and witnessed by the Operator’s authorised officer, who must also add his or her name, title and signature to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the customer.
  5. The SIM Card registered in the name of a foreign national must be valid for only the period of such person’s visa in Uganda.

Replacing, Swapping or Upgrading of SIM Cards registered in East African and other foreign national’s name

Every Operator shall comply with the following mandatory requirements before replacing, swapping or upgrading of SIM Cards registered in an East African or foreign customer’s SIM Card:

  1. SIM Card replacement, swapping or upgrade shall be done at customer service centres manned and directly operated by the telecom operators at designated customer service centres. For the avoidance of doubt, operators shall not replace/swap customer’s SIM Cards at their agent’s shops.
  2. The applicant for SIM Card replacement, swapping or upgrade must physically appear at the Operator’s customer service centre.
  3. The applicant for SIM Card replacement/ swapping must be the person in whose name the SIM Card was registered at the time of its loss or damage.
  4. The applicant must produce a valid letter from the Uganda Police Force confirming the loss of the applicant’s SIM Card.
  5. For damaged SIMM Cards, the applicant must physically present to the Operator the damaged SIM Card before the SIM Card swap or upgrade is done.
  6. The applicant must produce an original Passport.
  7. The Operator must make and retain a copy of the bio and visa page of the Passport for each applicant served.
  8. The Operator must obtain a fresh Photograph of the applicant.
  9. The Operator must re-register the applicant for the SIM card swap, replacement or upgrade.
  10. The replacement/Swapped SIM Card shall only be valid for the period of the customer’s legal stay in Uganda.

Download the guidelines here

REQUIREMENTS FOR REGISTRATION OF SIM CARD IN THE NAME OF REFUGEES

As was guided in the Directives that were previously issued by the Commission on this matter, before registering a SIM Card in the name of any Refugee the telecommunication service provider(Operator)must comply with the following requirements:

(a) New registrations:

  1. A refugee seeking to obtain a SIM Card in his or her name must produce his or her valid Refugee Identification Card or an Attestation letter from the Office of the Prime Minister.
  2. The Telecom operator shall obtain and retain a copy of the Refugee Card or the Attestation letter.
  3. The Operator must obtain a clear photograph of the applicant for each SIM Card.
  4. The Operator must ensure that the Refugee applicant for a SIM Card signs on the application form. The signature may be physical or digital, for as long as its authenticity is verified and witnessed by the Operator’s authorised officer, who must also add his or her name, title and signature to confirm the accuracy of the information provided by the customer.
  5. Upon receipt of the Refugee ID or attestation letter, the telecom operators shall electronically verify the authenticity of the refugee’s particulars through the API. The verification shall be done by SIM Card selling officer entering the refugee’s particulars as indicated on the Refugee ID or attestation letter into the API system and authenticating the same using the Refugee’s biometrics as obtained from any of the Refugee’s fingers.
  6. The fingerprints shall be captured using the biometric card reader machine, and these shall be forwarded using the API to the UNHCR/OPM database for verification.
  7. A SIM Card in the Refugee’s name shall only be issued if the results from the biometric verification indicate a match.
  8. The SIM Card registered in the name of a Refugee shall be valid only for the period of Refugee’s legal stay in Uganda.

(b) SIM replacement/swaps:

Operators shall comply with the following mandatory requirements before replacing, swapping or upgrading of SIM Cards registered in the name of a Refugee:

  1. The procedure above in respect to new registrations of SIM Cards in the name of Refugee shall apply.
  2. Where the Refugee loses his or her Refugee lD or Attestation Letter, the refugee shall apply for and obtain duplicate registration documentation from the Office of the Prime Minister before a SIM replacement, swap or upgrade is done.
  3. SIM replacement/swap shall only be carried out for subscribers with existing registration data within the operator database and validated by OPM as per process provided for in 1) above.

Download the guidelines here

REGISTRATION OF SIM CARD IN THE NAME OF CORPORATE BODIES

Under the current legal regime in Uganda, there are a number of entities or bodies with the capacity to operate businesses. Such bodies or entities are established under different laws and procedures. To be eligible for corporate SIM Card registration, therefore, the person, body or entity seeking to obtain SIM Cards under this procedure must fall within one of the following categories of recognised corporate bodies;

For purposes of these Guidelines, only the following bodies/entities or persons shall be eligible for corporate SIM Card Registration:

(a) Companies incorporated or registered under the Companies Act 2012.

In accordance with the Companies Act, once a company is incorporated or registered in Uganda, it acquires legal capacity to contract, including the right to enter into contracts for the provision of telecommunication services. According to section 22 of the Companies Act 2012, a certificate of incorporation is conclusive evidence that a company is duly incorporated in Uganda. Similarly, section 253 of the Companies Act provides that a certificate of registration issued by the Registrar of Companies is conclusive evidence that a company incorporated outside Uganda has been registered and authorised to conduct business in Uganda.

Therefore, companies of whatever type, whether one-person companies, private limited companies, Public limited companies, companies limited by shares or guarantees, are legal persons with a right to acquire SIM Cards in Uganda. The Uganda Registration Service Bureau (URSB) is the government agency entrusted with the mandate to incorporate, register and deal with all matters related to companies in Uganda.

Before entering into any agreement for the provision of telecommunication services with any company, therefore, telecom operators must ensure that proper identification details are obtained from the company.

(b) Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO)

According to section 29(1) of the Non-Governmental Organisations Act 2016, any person or group of persons incorporated as an organisation is required to be registered with the NGO Bureau. This means that before an NGO is registered and granted a permit to operate as an NGO in Uganda by the NGO Bureau, it must have been incorporated as an organisation either under the companies Act 2012 or under the Trustees Incorporation Act.

All NGOs, whether Ugandan or foreign, must first be legal persons duly incorporated under either the Companies Act or the Trustees Incorporation Act before they can be granted a permit to operate as NGOs in Uganda.

Telecom operators must therefore ensure that proper identification details are obtained about the legal status of the NGO before entering into any agreement for the provision of telecommunication services with them.

(c) Trusts

According to the Trustees Incorporation Act Cap 165, a person or a group of persons may form a Trust for purposes of achieving specific objectives. Section 1 of the Trustees Incorporation Act expressly provides that once granted a certificate of incorporation as trustee; the entity acquires corporate personality with capacity to undertake its activities in its name.

Every registered trustee must therefore have a certificate of incorporation issued by the URSB as evidence of its legal status.

(d) Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government (MDA)

The Government has set up several bodies for purposes of executing specific government functions. Some of these entities operate under the guidance and supervision of specific Ministries, departments of government or statutory bodies.

For statutory bodies, these are typically set up by an Act of Parliament, and the governance structure of such entities is usually prescribed under the law.

Depending on their respective operational status, MDA’s usually have an accounting officer, who is the person responsible for the day to day management of the MDA. For Ministries, the accounting officers are traditionally the Permanent Secretaries of the Ministry under which the Ministry or Department fall, and for statutory bodies, the Executive Directors, Commissioners, Director Generals as the case may be, are usually the administrative heads of such bodies.

Whatever the case, before a telecom operator enters into a contract with an MDA, proof must be obtained confirming the status of the MDA.

(e) Diplomats/Consulates/ Foreign Missions

Under international law, Governments cooperate with each other in different ways. Normally, representatives of foreign Governments operate in receiving countries under various arrangements. Some operate as Embassies, foreign Missions, and Consulates, among others.

By their nature, Embassies, Missions and Consulates act as representatives of foreign Governments in the receiving state. They are therefore not strictly legal persons, but in accordance with the specific cooperation agreements, such bodies are often accorded diplomatic status in the receiving state, including the right to contract and to procure goods and services to facilitate their operations.

Telecom operators must therefore ensure that where a request for SIM Cards is made by Embassies, Missions, Consulates and other related diplomatic representatives of foreign Governments, such bodies should be facilitated to acquire the SIM Cards. Telecom operators must obtain the relevant identification documents from the authorised persons from such bodies.

(f) Cooperative societies

In accordance with the Cooperative Societies Act Cap 112, once a cooperative society is registered and issued with a certificate of registration by the Registrar of cooperative societies, such cooperative society acquires legal capacity to contract, including the right to enter into contracts for the provision of telecommunication

services. According to section 12 of the Cooperative Societies Act Cap 112, a certificate of registration is conclusive evidence that a cooperative society is duly registered in Uganda.

Therefore, cooperative societies are legal persons with a right to acquire SIM Cards in Uganda. The Registrar of Co-operative Societies is entrusted with the mandate to incorporate, register and deal with all matters related to companies in Uganda.

Before entering into any agreement for the provision of telecommunication services with any cooperative society, therefore, telecom operators must ensure that proper identification details are obtained from the company.

Download the guidelines here

Business arrangements ineligible for corporate SIM registration

For purposes of these Guidelines, Partnerships, Firms, Business names shall not eligible for Corporate SIM Card registration. This is because whereas for different commercial or operational purposes, people may choose to operate business either as individuals or collectively with others, through the formation of a partnership or registration of business names, the excluded business arrangements do not result into creation of separate legal personality.

According to section 2 of the Partnership Act 2010, a partnership is a relationship which exists between or among persons, not exceeding twenty in number who carry on a business in common with a view to making profit.

Whereas Partnerships may be registered under section 4 of the Partnership Act 2010, registration does not cloth the partnership with legal personality.

The partners in a firm remain individually and collectively liable for all the firm liabilities.

Similarly, sole proprietors may also register their businesses as Business names, in accordance with the Business Names Registration Act. However, registration of a business name does not make the registered business or sole proprietor a separate legal entity from the person behind such business name.

Therefore, for purposes of SIM Card registration, a SIM Card sold to a partnership, sole proprietor or business name owner, is not supposed to be subjected to requirements for corporate registration. The persons, whether natural or legal, behind the partnership, sole proprietorship or business, should be subjected to the requirements applicable to their class. If the partners are natural beings, they should register the SIM Cards in their respective names, using their National ID and biometric particulars for nationals, or Passports, for foreigners. Where the persons behind the firm are legal entities, the rules set for companies should apply to them.

The same rules apply to Limited liability Partnerships registered under Part VI of the Partnership Act 2010. Both the general and limited liability partners in the LLP should be subjected to the same rules applicable to their class, whether as natural persons or as companies.

Requirements for registration and or sale of SIM Card to Companies

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:

  1. A certified copy of the companies’ certificate of incorporation.
  2. Certified copy of the Particulars of the Directors of the Company.
  3. Certified copy of the Form showing the registered location/place of business of the Company.
  4. A copy of the companies’ Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
  5. 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;
  6. 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.
  7. A legal undertaking signed by the accounting officer and all the directors of the Company committing to be held jointly and severally liable for any misuse of the SIM Cards registered in the name of the Company.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Download the guidelines here

Requirements for sale and/or registration of SIM Cards in the name of a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO)

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:

  1. A certified copy of the NGO’s permit and a letter of good standing from the NGO Bureau.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. A legal undertaking signed by the accounting officer and all the directors of the NGO committing to be held jointly and severally liable for any misuse of the SIM Cards registered in the name of the NGO.
  6. 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.
  7. The cost of conducting the search about the NGO shall be borne by the NGO applying for SIM cards.

Requirements for sale of SIM Card to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDA)

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:

  1. 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 t, 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.
  2. A copy of the National Identity Cards of the Accounting officer of the subject MDA.
  3. 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.

Requirements for sale of SIM Card to Embassies, Foreign Missions and Consulates

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Where the letter in (i) above shows that the SIM Card 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

For the avoidance of doubt, the above requirements shall apply to international Organisations which, by virtue of any specific international or bi-later agreement between Uganda and any country, have diplomatic status and immunity in Uganda.

Download the guidelines here

Requirements for sale/registration of SIM Cards in the name of a Trust incorporated under the Trustees Incorporation Act

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:

  1. A certified copy of the certificate of incorporation of the Trust issued by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development.
  2. Certified copies of the Trust Deed/ constitution of the Trust.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 a 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.
  6. A legal undertaking signed by the accounting officer and all the directors of the Trust committing to be held jointly and severally liable for any misuse of the SIM Cards registered in the name of the Trust.
  7. 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 requesting 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.

Requirements for registration and/or sale of SIM Card to Cooperative Societies

Before selling a SIM Card to a cooperative society registered under the Cooperative Societies Act Cap 112, a telecommunication operator shall obtain the following details from the company:

  1. A certified copy of the companies’ certificate of registration.
  2. Certified copy of the Particulars of the Directors of the Cooperative society.
  3. Certified copy of the Form showing the registered location/place of business of the Cooperative society.
  4. A copy of the cooperative society’s Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) Certificate issued by the Uganda Revenue Authority.
  5. A copy of the National Identity Card of the Managing Director or Chief Executive officer of the Co-operative Society, 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;
  6. A letter on the cooperative society’s letterhead signed by the Managing Director or Chief Executive Officer authorising the purchase of the subject SIM Card(s) by the Cooperative society, and the purpose for which the SIM Cards are being purchased.
  7. The Telecommunications operator shall carry out a company search at the Registrar of Cooperative societies to certify the authenticity of the 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.
  8. A legal undertaking signed by the accounting officer and all the directors of the Cooperative society committing to be held jointly and severally liable for any misuse of the SIM Cards registered in the name of the Company.
  9. The Telecom operators shall only issue the SIM card to the company after receiving confirmation from Registrar of cooperative societies about the authenticity of the documents provided.

In addition to the above specific requirements for Corporate SIM Card Registration, 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 designated Operator’s customer service centres.
  • Each Telecommunications Operator shall register a maximum of 100 (One Hundred) Corporate SIM Cards on its network to each applicant,

EXCEPT THAT;

  1. Where the corporate body is regulated by a Government institution in Uganda, the Operator may register any number of SIM Cards in the name of such regulated body, where the applicant can prove to the satisfaction of the Chief Executive Officer of the Operator, that the SIM Cards are needed for purposes of facilitating the execution of its regulated activities. In this case, the body applying for more than 100 SIM Cards in its name must:
    • Present to the Operator a letter on the corporate body’s official letterhead, duly signed and stamped by the Managing Director / Chief Executive Officer of such entity explaining why such many SIM Cards are needed. The applicant for corporate SIM Cards under this exception shall, in addition to the other requirements stated above, submit a copy of its license authorising it to provide the regulated business it intends to provide using the SIM Cards sought to be acquired.
    • Where the Operator confirms the authenticity of the license provided and that the SIM Cards sought to be acquired are intended to be used for official activities of the regulated body, the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of the Operator may, at his or her discretion, authorise the sale of the required SIM Cards to the entity, PROVIDED ALWAYS that the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and all Directors of such corporate body (the applicant) shall sign a legal undertaking committing to be personally and severally responsible for the use of all the SIM Cards sold to the corporate body. He or she shall provide to the Operator a copy of his or her National ID (for a Ugandan) or Valid Passport (for a foreigner). The undertaking shall be in the form of Annexure 1 to these Guidelines.
    • Where SIM Cards are sold to a corporate body under this exception, the corporate body shall maintain and continuously update a list of all SIM Cards registered in its name and shall, on a quarterly basis, submit a report to the Operator, showing the service provided using each SIM Card and where, the SIM Card is deployed in a machine or system, the particulars, location and person directing overseeing and controlling the operations of such system or machine.
    • As part of its monthly reporting obligations, each telecom operator shall add a report of all SIM Cards sold to corporate bodies during the month, indicating the assigned number, name and address of the corporate body in whose name the SIM Card(s) was registered.
  2. Where the corporate body seeking to obtain more than 100 SIM Cards is engaged in an unregulated but officially recognisable business that requires many SIM Cards, such as Car tracking, Electronic Monitoring system, Hire purchase, Asset financing, Leasing or any other technologically enabled business, the Operator may register any number of SIM Cards in the name of such corporate body where, to the satisfaction of the Operator’s Chief Executive Officer or Managing Director, the applicant can demonstrate that the SIM Cards are needed for purposes of facilitating the execution of its official business activities. In this case, the corporate body applying for more than 100 SIM Cards in its name must:
    • Present to the Operator a letter on the corporate body’s official letterhead, duly signed and stamped by the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of such entity explaining to the Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of the Operator, why such many SIM Cards are needed. The applicant for corporate SIM Cards under this exception shall, in addition to the general requirements stated herein above, submit a copy of its current Trading License from the City/Municipal or Town authority authorising it to provide the business activity it intends to provide using the SIM Cards sought to be acquired.
    • Where the Operator confirms the authenticity of the Trading license provided and that the SIM Cards sought to be acquired are intended to be used for official activities of the corporate body, the Operator may, at its discretion, register and sale the required SIM Cards to the corporate body, PROVIDED ALWAYS that the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer and all the Directors of such corporate body shall sign a legal undertaking committing to be personally and severally responsible for the use of all the SIM Cards sold to the corporate body. He or she shall provide to the Operator a copy of his or her National ID (for a Ugandan) or Valid Passport (for a foreigner). The undertaking shall be in the form of Annexure 1 to these Guidelines.
    • Where SIM Cards are sold to a corporate body under this exception, the corporate body shall maintain and continuously update a list of all SIM Cards registered in its name and shall, on a quarterly basis, submit a report to the Operator, showing the service provided using each SIM Card and where, the SIM Card is deployed in a machine or system, the particulars, location and person directing overseeing and controlling the operations of such system or machine.
    • As part of its monthly reporting obligation, each telecom operator shall add a report of all SIM Cards sold to corporate bodies during the month, indicating the assigned number, name and address of the corporate body in whose name the SIM Card(s) was registered.
    • 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 procedure on Corporate SIM Card registration.
    • The Procedure must be submitted to the Commission within 60 (sixty) days from the date hereof.

Download the guidelines here

CHURNING AND/OR RESALE OF INACTIVE SIM CARDS

Whilst it is a recognised industry practice for operators to churn out customer’s numbers where the number does not make any Revenue Generating Activity (RGA) for a continuous period of ninety (90) days, all operators are hereby required:

Before churning out any SIM Card, the Operator must send a notice of note less than seven (7) days informing the SIM Card user that unless they reactivate their SIM Card within the stated period, the Operator shall churn and re-sell/re-assign the SIM Card to another customer.

Where the customer fails to re-activate his or her SIM Card after the notice period stated above, the Operator shall be entitled to churn the numbers PROVIDED ALWAYS THAT:

  1. The Operator shall maintain separate records of all the relevant SIM Card records, including KYC, CDR, mobile money statement for the respective customers.
  2. The Operator must ensure that where any authority makes a request for any records about the subject number, the reports provided must clearly reflect any changes that have happened on the subject number.

Every Operator shall, in its monthly reports, include a list of inactive numbers that are due for churning.

LOSS OF SIM CARD

A person who loses his or her SIM Card shall;

  1. immediately inform his or her telecommunication service provider of such loss of SIM Card; and
  2. report the loss of his or her SIM Card to the nearest police facility within 72 hours from the date of such loss and immediately thereafter present to the telecommunication service provider a letter from the Uganda Police confirming that the loss of the SIM Card was reported to Police.

A telecommunication service provider shall immediately upon receipt of notification of loss of a SIM card from its registered owner suspend service to the lost SIM Card, including access to any money saved on such number. A telecommunication service provider shall put in place sufficient controls to ensure that before a reportedly stolen SIM Card is suspended, the person claiming to have lost it is indeed the person in whose name it was registered.

A telecommunication service provider shall on receipt of a Police letter confirming the loss of SIM card, deactivate the number and all transactions on it, including access to any Mobile money balance on it until its registered user presents his or her full particulars and original National ID before the number can be reactivated, replaced or otherwise swapped.

GENERAL RULES ON SIM CARD SALES

Save for where these Guidelines have specifically varied the existing procedure as contained in any previous Directives that were issued by the Commission on SIM Card Registration, every Operator shall continue to enforce all the Directives, INCLUDING the following rules:

  1. SIM cards shall only be sold at designated points of sale duly licensed by the town/city authority, the list of which shall be submitted to the Commission and updated periodically as may be necessary. No SIM cards shall be sold on streets.
  2. Every Operator shall ensure that each Biometric SIM Card registration machine is geo-fenced to a designated SIM Card selling point.
  3. Every Operator shall keep a record of the stock movement of its SIM cards from the warehouse to the SIM Card selling points, and the Commission may, at any time require any operator to produce such records.
  4. Under no circumstance shall an operator sale any unregistered or pre-registered SIM card to any person.
  5. Save for SIM Cards registered in accordance with the procedure on corporate SIM, no operator shall register more than ten (10) SIM Cards in the name of any individual customer on its network.
  6. Where an individual customer, (other than a corporate customer), has more than one SIM Card on any operator’s network, the Operator shall designate the first SIM Card that was registered in the customer’s name as the primary SIM Card, and before activation of any additional SIM Card on such customer’s NIN, the Operator shall electronically send a request for approval of registration of the additional SIM Card on the customer’s NIN. The Operator shall only activate the additional SIM Card after receiving a confirmatory message/approval from the customer.
  7. Notwithstanding (5) above, an operator shall only register one SIM Card on any customer’s NIN in any given 24 hours.
  8. Every Operator shall display a notice in a conspicuous place at all SIM Card selling points informing customers that they will be personally held responsible for the use of any SIM Card registered in their names.

Download the guidelines here 

MONITORING COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

The Commission from time to time monitor compliance and shall implement an inspection and assessment regime to ensure that all telecom operators comply with the law on SIM Card registration and these Guidelines.

The obligation to adhere to these requirements rests with each telecommunication service provider. Operators must ensure that all their staff, agents and customers are appropriately informed and trained about these requirements to ensure compliance. The Operator must also ensure that customers are adequately sensitised about these new requirements.

Any operator that shall be found to operate contrary to these requirements may be liable to regulatory sanctions in accordance with section 41 of the Act, including, but not limited to, fines, suspension and or revocation of license.

 DATA PROTECTION AND CONFIDENTIALITY

Without limiting the generality of the Data Protection and Privacy Act 2019, the following rules shall apply to all data and information obtained from customers for purposes of SIM Card registration;

  1. Any customer whose personal information is obtained and stored in the Operator’s database shall be entitled to view the said information or data and to request any updates and amendments thereto;
  2. The customer’s information obtained by any operator and or its agents, shall be held on a strictly confidential basis and no person or corporate body shall be allowed to access to any customer’s information in the custody of the Operator except in accordance with the law.
  3. Every Operator shall take all necessary measures to preserve the integrity and prevent any corruption, loss or unauthorised disclosure of subscriber’s information.

An operator shall report to the Commission any incident that affects, compromise or otherwise is deemed likely to affect the integrity of customer’s data in the Operator’s custody.

The Commission may require an operator to furnish it with data or information about any customer for purposes of undertaking its regulatory mandate.

 AMENDMENT OF THE OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES

The Commission shall monitor and review the implementation of these Guidelines from time to time to ensure its continued relevance.

Download the guidelines here

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