Communications regulator, UCC has announced that the ban on the use of airtime scratch cards for the respective telecom companies, by users will take effect at the end of this month.
This is contained in a public notice published by Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) in the dailies.
“We hereby inform the general public that UCC has banned the use of scratch/airtime cards with effect from July 31, 2018,” the notice by UCC stated.
According to UCC, the mobile phone users will only access airtime credit or internet (data) bundles using Mobile Money platforms by the different telecom companies operating in Uganda. The other option is to get airtime electronically from authorized outlets.
“To load/buy airtime or data bundles, please dial *165*2# for MTN, *185*2# for Airtel and *144*2# for Africell, and follow the prompts or visit the nearest agent for assistance,” added the notice.
The ban follows a decision that was taken about three months ago after discussions between UCC and the telcos operating in Uganda. During the discussions, it was agreed that the scratch cards be phased out gradually.
The UCC Public Relations Officer, Pamela Ankunda told SoftPower News on Thursday that the telcos were asked to gradually deplete their scratch card stocks and that they agreed to the July 31 deadline.
“We agreed with telcos that they will phase the scratch cards out with time. The decision wasn’t spontaneous. We agreed that they will replenish their stocks and that they will not order for more,” Ankunda said in a telephone interview with this website.
Asked what informed the decision to ban the airtime cards, she said that it is meant to do away with the lack of traceability in the chain of distribution and sale.
“These telecoms only deal with the big dealers like Simba Telcom which sale these scratch cards. If you are Simba Telecom and you sell to retailers, there is no traceability to the last person who has purchased the scratch cards,” she added.
She however added that the move is also partly aimed to reduce on e-waste since the airtime cards are considered as dangerous to the environment.
On whether UCC is confident that the deadline will be met, Pamela Ankunda said; “What we agreed with the telcos is that they won’t buy more. And they also agreed that the deadline for July 31 was tenable”.