SIM sales return to normal in Uganda as telecom operators receive biometric card readers

Sales of new SIM cards have resumed in Uganda after the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) lifted a ban put into place pending the roll-out of electronic biometric card readers to telecom operators by the country’s National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA), Techweez reports.

The ban went into effect in March, and was lifted in mid-April with the delivery of the card readers, which verify subscriber information with the NIRA database in real-time. In addition to the biometric identity check, new conditions on SIM subscriptions include a ban on purchases with a third-party ID, as was formerly common for minors, who used their parent’s IDs, according to Techweez. Customers must also provide a recent photograph.
Ugandans who lose their SIM card must report the loss to the police, and receive a letter verifying that they have done so before registering a new one.

Non-citizens must verify their identity by presenting a passport, visa, or resident permit document.

The measures are intended to cut down on crimes in which fraudulently registered SIM cards are used, such as kidnapping, which have been increasing.

Uganda is also in the midst of an ambitious program with the UNHCR to biometrically register an estimated 1.4 million refugees.

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