General Haji Abubaker Jeje Odongo, the Minister of Internal Affairs, has announced that the sim card registration and verification process will continue past the August 30, deadline set by President Yoweri Museveni.
Odongo made the remarks during the meeting between the parliamentary committee of ICT, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Security, National Identification and Registration Authority [NIRA], and National Information Technology Authority [NITA] over the SIM registration process.
“I would like to assure the general public that the registration process will not stop after the deadline on 30th of August,” Odongo said.
The Minister of Security, Gen Henry Tumukunde, on the other hand, said government will not relent on its earlier position of switching off all unregistered SIM cards by August 30.
Tumukunde told members that the decision follows an earlier meeting chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.
In accordance with the Law, the Presidential Directive on the matter and with consultation with the Telecom sector regulator and the National Identity Regulator, it our position that the 30th August deadline holds, and won’t be postponed,” Tumukunde said.
He said the world most valuable resource is not fuel now but data.
“Minors can use their parents NIN to register and when they are adults and get their IDS, they can apply for change,” Tumukunde pointed out, adding, “We must make security a priority and respect the deadline for SIM registration.”
He said NIRA officials are under immense pressure, civilians who are not trained to handle such pressure like soldiers do.
Odong also agreed NIRA is still having challenges because it’s still in the transitional process.
Hon. Mbabali Muyanja (Bukoto South) wondered what the real problem with NIRA was. “Let’s understand their challenges.”
Committee chairperson and Tororo North MP Annet Nyakecho said NIRA should set up contact centres all around the country to reduce the inconvenience of travelling to Kololo.
Hon. Musana Eric Acaali [Buyaga East] said he is compelled to bring people from Kagadi to Kololo because they have no NIRA contact office in Kagadi.
Hon. Ibrahim Abiriga [Arua Municipality] said the registration process is not complete. “It might take us another year because of the slow process.”
Hon. Tumukunde told the members that there has to be one terminal of communication for the SIM registration process and deadline.
Appearing before the same committee early in the week, the Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Information, Communication and Technology said that details of nearly four million sim cards submitted by subscribers cannot be matched with the provided National Identification Numbers (NINs).
In his submission, Vincent Bagiire said that different telecom companies submitted the total number of their subscribers to the National Identification and Registration Authority (NIRA) with a view of matching the sim card numbers to the provided NINs.
“Some of the individuals who sent numbers were found to exist and could relate numbers to particular individuals but some were not found, they could not be matched to a NIN,” said Bagiire.
He said that out of the 16,921,861 million Sim Card details submitted by MTN, the biggest telecom operator, 15,982,381 were verified with only 13.4 million registration details found to be matching with the NINs.
Bagiire noted that 2.5 million MTN Sim Card registration details cannot be matched to a National Identification Number (NIN).