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UCC says Africell must clear all its debts before exiting Uganda

Acting UCC Executive Director Eng Irene Kaggwa

KAMPALA, UGANDA: The Uganda Communication Commission (UCC) has direct Africell Uganda to ensure all its debts are cleared prior to its planned exit from the Ugandan market which is due next month.

Africell this week confirmed after a week of rumours that the telecom company had resolved to shut down its operations in the Ugandan market by 7th October 2021 after seven years of existence on the market.

“Africell UG will stop services on October 7, 2021. The decision is being made in the long-term interest of the Ugandan telecom sector,” the company announced this week. Adding; “We believe that the opportunity to achieve this impact is increasingly limited. We have therefore taken the difficult decision to permanently end Africell UG’s operations in Uganda.”

However, the communications regulator, UCC has now set tough measures for the company seeking existing, among which include paying all its debts and ensuring that its prepaid customers do not suffer any credit loss at the time of its closure in October.

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The Acting UCC Executive Director Eng Irene Kaggwa said, “The pre-exit conditions are intended to ensure that the interests and rights of Africell’s customers, agents, employees, trade creditors, and the Government of Uganda are safeguarded before the exit.”

The telecom service provider, which entered the Ugandan market in 2014 after acquiring majority shares in Orange Uganda, will instead focus on other parts of the world where they have a competitive advantage.

UCC said it’s already working with sister agencies to ensure compliance with the various laws, including the National Environment Protection Act and the Data Protection and Privacy Act.

“Africell has committed to ensuring that all customers, agents, employees and other trade creditors are paid their claims before the actual date of cessation of operation in Uganda,” said UCC.

UCC also advised all persons with claims against Africell are advised to immediately contact Africell to work out arrangements to settle their claims before the 7th of October 2021.

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Africell’s departure follows the imminent exit of foreign investors with also Smart Telecom which closed operations in Uganda at the end of last month.

However, the Commission said Uganda’s communication sector “is resilient and attractive to local and foreign investors, and sufficient measures have been instituted to ensure that Africell’s exit does not negatively affect the stability and integrity of the communication sector in Uganda.”

UCC, as the regulator of the communications sector in Uganda, has the mandate to, among others, monitor, inspect, licence, supervise, control, promote and safeguard the interests of consumers and providers of communications services in Uganda.

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