The speaker of Uganda Parliament, Hon.Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, has ordered all telecom companies to return to the traditional way of loading airtime using scratch cards from the digitalized ‘easy go’.
The speaker justified her decision saying that people in the villages are not well versed with the easy go method and therefore needed time to familiarize with it.
“There is no electricity in the villages yet these machines need power to operate,” Kadaga asserted.
Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, addresses the dialogue with Members of Parliament, UCC held at Parliament on 9 August 2018: Courtesy photo
Kadaga said this while in a Parliamentary dialogue on Thursday August 9,2018 attended by over 50 members of parliament. It was agreed that the use of scratch cards should be maintained and its phase out be determined by the market forces of demand.
According to the Minister for ICT and National Guidance, Hon. Frank Tumwebaze, technology is an unavoidable change but he agreed to engage the parties involved; UCC and telecommunication companies to ensure a gradual transformation.
“I have now directed that let us not ban scratch cards abruptly. I agree that we should have walked along with our rural people,” said Tumwebaze.
Although scratch cards were revamped, MPs also agreed that the electronic airtime loading system will continue to be used to potential users.
The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Uganda, Wim Vanhelleputte, said that telecommunication companies will now work towards restocking the scratch cards since they are out of stock following the ban.
“We will see how market forces play. If there is a strong demand to go back to scratch cards, we will have to find a way to address those demands,” said Vanhelleputee.
“Figures on the ground show that 99 percent of customers have already embraced the electronic airtime loading system,” Vanhelleputte added.
The ban imposed by the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), the government communications regulator, came into effect at the end of July this year, in favour of the electronic airtime loading system.