Sim Card Validation Extended to May 19

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In short
Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda announced the extension in a letter to Uganda Communications Commission this afternoon.

Government has extended the validation of sim cards by one month to 19th May 2017.

Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda announced the extension in a letter to Uganda Communications Commission-UCC this afternoon. Initially, UCC Executive Director Godfrey Mutabazi said that all simcards that are not validated by April 20, would be deactivated.

But the directive faced condemnation from the general public and activists who faulted the regulator for restricting the exercise to one form of identification document and not giving Ugandans enough time to secure National IDs.

Rugunda's directive came as long queues formed at division and district headquarters across the country with hundreds of nationals pursuing their National Identity cards, the sole prerequisite for the validation exercise.

Uganda Radio Network visited Kampala Central, Kawempe, Lubaga urban division offices where hundreds waited in vain to secure their National Identity Cards. Thousands were also camped at the National Identification and Registration Authority-NIRA offices in Kololo in a bid to register and possibly beat the initial deadline.

Sunday Muhammad, a national found at Central Division KCCA Offices, pleaded that the time for validation be extended to enable more Ugandans secure their National IDs and validate their sim cards. 

"These people sat in offices and issued orders which don't favour us. I came here yesterday and today to pick my ID but the line is too big. I going back without my ID and I may not get it tomorrow. We need more time to pick our ID to register SIM cards."

At Lubaga division offices, hundreds of people were locked outside the premises to stop congestion in the offices. Nabukye Hilda who had just got her identity card described the process as slow and tiresome.

"I arrived here at 5:30am but got my identity card minutes ago. There are only four people inside the room where cards are being given. Two check names in the computers while the people staffs check IDs. They are very slow," she said.

Uganda has more than 22 million mobile telephone subscribers, according to a recent study by Uganda Communications Commission. Majority of them are split between MTN and Airtel Uganda.

However, only 11 million of these had successfully validated their sim cards according to Fred Otunnu, UCC's Corporate Affairs Director. This represents 50 percent of the total subscription in the country.

On Tuesday, Norman Tumuhimbise, the Coordinator of the Jobless Brotherhood, a youth pressure group, filed an application in the Civil Division of the High Court asking court to temporally block the ongoing verification. The ruling was due this afternoon, shortly before the government directive.