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Airtime Scratch Cards Officially Banned – Minister Explains Why

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The process towards the ban on airtime scratch cards was started when Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) and the sector operators informed the public about the plan in March 2018.

Hence forth the sector players agreed to set 31st July 2018 (today) as the deadline for the use of paper air time cards, after carefully evaluating the process necessary to effect the ban.

During today’s plenary, the minister for ICT, Frank Tumwebaze while reading a statement on the ban told members of parliament that several public notices have been running in the mass media to prepare customers for the shift to the electronic recharge system.

Tumwebaze said that consumers can now buy airtime using Easy Load, Mobile money, Me2U, Payway and several other electronic means, and that these services are available across the country in the same outlets that were selling airtime vouchers. He stated that mobile network operators have gradually phased out the distribution of scratch cards and the majority of users are already using E-Top up.

Tumwebaze added that to those clients who are still in possession of scratch cards, they are working out mechanisms to redeem them by 31st July 2018. “Mobile operators have already put in place system to facilitate conversion of any unutilized scratch cards into mobile money. Through this system, no customer will lose money. They will be refunded for any unutilized air time cards,” Tumwebaze said.

He further told parliament that telecom companies are working with their agents and distributors across the country to ensure that there is seamless transition from the old system to the new system.

The proposal to wipe out airtime scratch cards first received some criticism from some MPs. However, the minister reminded parliament of the past killings and crimes committed using mobile phones.

“Hon. Speaker and colleagues, we all remember that early this year, our country experienced an unprecedented surge in the number of crimes committed using mobile phones, including the rampant kidnaps and murders of several women, such as Susan Magara and the Entebbe women. In order to improve the security situation, in March 2018, Cabinet agreed to the streamlining of Sim Card registration processes and an inter-Ministerial Committee of Cabinet involving Internal Affairs, Security and ICT was tasked to engage with Telecom operators with a view of finding solutions to the phone-based security threats.” Tumwebaze said.

He added that several measures were implemented, including requiring all telecom operators to install biometric card readers such that all sim card registrations and sim swaps are done only upon electronic verification of the biometric details of the sim card applicant.

Tumwebaze stated that UCC and the security agencies recommended that vending of air time cards was directly linked to the selling of illegally registered sim cards and would facilitate airtime recharge and top-ups manually without any digital tracing.

“The use of electronic recharge systems was therefore recommended as the most viable and secure option,” Tumwebaze said. It has improved the process of directly tracing vendors/hawkers/stockists and eventually their customers who procure airtime electronically.

Vendors who have been selling scratch cards have been given the opportunity to sell the same airtime in a digital format using an ordinary phone as a tool of trade, and have been duly registered by the telecom operators. There is therefore no inconvenience to anybody since the same people and outlets that were selling the paper scratch cards are the same points of sale for the electronic recharge.

Tumwebaze added that digitization of airtime shall create more job opportunities through formalised distribution, contrary to earlier worries that the process will lead to massive job losses.  It will also improve revenue assurance by Government, since with the electronic system, URA can determine the amount of Airtime sold by Telecom operators and agents and thus rule out any tax under declarations.

Furthermore, the use of electronic recharge systems will protect the public against purchase of fake air time scratch cards intended to defraud unsuspecting members of the public and enhance security measures on telecom related services because there shall be traceability in the entire transaction.

 

By Stella Mugoya

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I’m Going To Start A Bank Where We Lend People Without Asking For Land Titles Or Security – Pr. Bujjingo

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House of Prayers Ministries International (HPMI) senior Pastor Aloysious Bujjingo has told his congregation that he is soon going to start a bank where people can borrow freely without collateral.

During his ‘chapter 2’ sermon on Thursday, Bujjingo said that after the construction of 38,000 Pentagon seater church, he is going to start the battle to fight poverty by empowering Ugandans financially.

“I strongly believe that after the construction of Pentagon a 38,000-seater church, there is no reason why anyone among us should be poor,” Pr. Bujjingo Said.

Pr. Bujjingo declared that despite facing many detractors, who are trying hard to soil his name, he is ready to bless others because God has also blessed him. He said that he doesn’t want much from the world apart from fulfilling his calling of making sure that people are delivered both spiritually and physically.

He said that there are many educated people who are suffering because they lack opportunities to exercise their expertise.

“God has blessed us and many are educated among us, that’s why I have plans to establish a financial institution like a bank. Because so many here are accountants and you are teaching your children to be. I do not need to be an accountant but I need you who are accountants. I have declared it, those who want to fight against it, you can go head but God will establish it. We need to have a system of lending money to people without requiring land titles or any sort of security,” said Pr. Bujjingo who already employs hundreds of journalist, engineers, marketers and accountants under his Salt Media company.

He emphasized to the believers to avoid relying on gossip but work hard and listen to God if they want to triumph.

Bujjingo also dismissed social media allegations that he owns Canaan soda.

He Commended all the people who have stood with the ministry amidst the storm it has faced recently and the Salt Media audience who have persistently followed the message of the good news of the word of God.

By Doreen Menezer

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Uganda To Host Meeting On Natural Resources Management

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Uganda is to host the 1st great lakes and catchment management conference from the 5th to 7th June to discuss how the country can better utilize and manage natural resources to boost production and improve livelihoods.

Addressing a joint press conference to announce the conference, the organizing chairman Prof. Tenywa Moses expressed worries at the speed at which Ugandans are mismanaging the available natural resources namely, water, soil, forests, wetlands among others.

Prof. Tenywa further urged Ugandans to always use better preservation methods if the current resources are to be used over a number of years.

However, the commissioner water resources planning and regulation from the water and environment ministry, Dr. Callist Tindimugaya said that the amount of water in Uganda seems to be much but in actual sense it’s not enough, which has made it costly.

The experts warned that poor resource management by Ugandans will negatively impact on agriculture and other economic activities hence deter Uganda from attaining her desired attainment of the middle-income status.

At the forthcoming conference, scientists will be producing a number of researches on natural resources management in the country.

By Mboowa Nathan

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MTN WOES: Furious M7 Orders CMI, ESO To Kick Off Investigations Into The Relationship Between MTN GM Katamba And Jailed Police Boss Nixon Agasirwe

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Former MTN General Manager Anthony Katamba

President Museveni has ordered the Chieftaincy for Military Intelligence (CMI) and the External Security Organisation (ESO) to investigate the relationship between Former MTN General Manager
Anthony Katamba and jailed police boss Nixon Agasirwe.

Katamba fled the country to seek asylum in Scandinavian countries after receiving several security tip offs from some of his colleagues in security that he was going to be arrested for giving wrong information to security.

Multiple sources in CMI and Special Forces Command (SFC) have told the Grapevine that the president has relied on those reports to exonerate the deported MTN Chief Executive officer Wim Vanhelleputte.

“The president was very furious because he established from different security reports that he was fooled on the MTN matter. The president was very furious and instructed CMI commander Col. Abel Kanduho to immediately start investigating Katamba,” our source revealed.

The highly respected security operative told this website that Katamba, the former General Manager for Corporate Services at MTN was the one misinforming security agencies by giving them wrong information concerning some of his colleagues for his personal gain.

Our sources disclosed that when Katamba developed misunderstandings with top MTN management over some internal issues, he decided to malice and marline them before government and security officials that they were carrying out activities that were going to jeopardize national security. Katamba told these officials that MTN was being used to spy for one of the hostile neighbouring country. 

“That man Katamba thought that he is the big man in MTN because of his closeness to the MTN board chairman Charles Mbiire. He learnt of his dismissal from MTN and he vowed to fight and make sure all expatriates at the facility are deported. He boasted before his friends at Kampala club that he is the only top local employee in MTN,” another source added.

Security operatives told the Grapevine that Katamba even fed security with wrong information that led to the storming of MTN’s center in Mutundwe, a Kampala suburb.

Vanhelleputte was deported with three other senior managers who included; Chief Marketing Officer, Olivier Prentout, the Mobile Money General Manager Elsa Mussolini and General Manager for sales and distribution Annie Tabura. Vanhelleputta challenged his illegal deportation at the High Court civil Division.

KATAMBA PLACED IN AGASIRWE’S RACKET

Our sources further revealed that after reading various security reports on the MTN saga, the president established that there was a good relationship between General Kale Kayihura’s blue eyed boy SSP Nixon Agasirwe and Katamba. One of the well elaborated report to the president indicated that there were a lot of suspicious dealings which were going on between Katamba and Agasirwe. The investigators also based reports on the judgment of High Court anti-corruption Division judge Lawrence Gidudu, in the 2015 case of Richard Mwami and others, concerning the embezzlement of over 6 billion shillings. 

Sentongo (who was Mwami’s witness) testified that after arresting him, he was taken to a room at the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) in Kireka. Minutes later Agasirwe entered the room in company of Katamba. Sentongo testified that Agasirwe and Katamba told him to pin Mwami that he stole the Shs6bn, when he refused, he was brutally tortured.

Both Katamba and Agasirwe were later accused of torturing Sentongo.  Currently, Agasirwe is detained with other top police officers at Makindye barracks after being charged by the Court martial on espionage and kidnap charges. The president has tasked CMI to dig deeper into the dealings between Katamba and Agasirwe.

KATAMBA PINNED FOR STAGING AN ASSASINATION

Sources further told this website that one and half month’s back, Katamba reported to police that some people wanted him dead.

Katamba alleged that unknown gunmen attacked him at his Kiwatule home at around 3:00am. He stated that he escaped through the gate at the back of his house and narrowly survived being killed. Museveni also ordered the investigators to find out whether Katamba was attacked, who the attackers were plus their motive.

A source revealed that the president was briefed in the MTN security report that Katamba staged the alleged assassination to avoid being charged with espionage. He also wanted to use the alleged attack to seek asylum because he got information from his security friends that he was under investigation.

KATAMBA FLEES THE COUNTRY

Credible sources further told this website that two weeks ago, Katamba fled to Scandinavian countries. We were informed that Katamba is currently seeking asylum from one of the Scandinavian countries. We talked to Katamba’s friends who he usually spends time with at Kampala Club and Golf Course, they revealed that they have spent two weeks without seeing him.

“I have spent a week without seeing my friend Katamba, I don’t know whether he left the country,” one of Katamba’s friends, who we found at the Golf Course playground told us.

We tried to talk Katamba’s girlfriend but he refused to tell us the whereabouts of her hubby. We also tried to call Katamba’s known phone number but it was not going through.

By Jamil Lutakome

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