Parliament, UCC agree to lift ban on Airtime Scratch cards

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Following the interface between the Parliamentary ICT committee, Telecom companies, Uganda Communication Commission and speaker of parliament Rebecca Kadaga on Thursday, it was agreed to lift ban on airtime scratch cards
The ban on the use of scratch cards was effected on 31st, July by the Telecom companies following a directive from UCC. However, the decision was met with public outcry.



However, the meeting chaired by the Speaker resulted in a consensus to stay the usage of airtime scratch card, and to phase it out gradually as the public is fully sensitized on the use of electronic recharge system.
The MPs accused mobile telecom operators of being driven by greed for profits in pushing for the phasing out of scratch cards. Hon. Juliet Kyinyamatama said ‘’We understand why these Telecoms make these decisions, to make profits but as MPs the people are our profits and we are not going to let you take us for a ride’’



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She wondered why the UCC was keen on siding with the telecoms and also observed that before the so called easy-load is made the only airtime recharge option, the mobile network coverage in rural areas needed improvement
Ruhinda North MP Thomas Tayebwa observed that the telecoms have not provided a viable alternative to scratch cards especially in the rural areas, noting that some sub counties have not got a single agent operating there.
The MPs were responding to presentation by Doris Vano a business analyst with Airtel who on behalf of other telecoms made a case for the ban on scratch cards.



She argued that with the electronic easy load customers have the latitude to choose airtime of any value be it 50/- or 100/- which wasn’t the case for scratch cards.
She also emphasized that recharging is instant and there is no time lag as was the case with scratch cards.
Speaker Kadaga dismissed the presentation as one that was not in touch with the common man, observing that no survey had been carried out at the grassroots before the ban was approved.




She argued that both scratch cards and Easy-load system should work concurrently as the public goes optional on what they feel comfortable to use.



At the end, Minister, Tumwebaze agreed that the phasing out of scratch cards should be a gradual process to lessen the inconveniences to the people. “We agree that there is a problem of accessibility of airtime and that there isn’t a need of forceful banning of scratch cards, but allow it to be phased out by the market forces of demand and supply,” Tumwebaze said.

read: Airtime Scratch cards cause cancer – UCC’s Godfrey Mutabazi tells MPs

Also read: UCC explains ban on airtime scratch cards

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