The East Africa Communications Organisations (EACO) has agreed to register all mobile phone SIM cards throughout the region by June 2012 as a way of ensuring security for East Africans.
EACO brings together regulatory, postal, telecommunications and broadcasting organisations within the East African Community (EAC) with the main objective of harmonizing policies of the communications sector.
The body reached the decision during its 17th annual Congress held in Kampala. The meeting attracted over 200 delegates from all the EAC partner states.
“The decision to register SIM cards was reached at for security purposes and for protection of our consumers,” Isaac Kalembe, the Media and Public aRelations Specialist at the Uganda Communications Commission said in an interview yesterday.
“For instance, there have been cases where someone calls you, abuses you and then throws away the SIM card, once registered it becomes easy to track such people.”
The meeting also agreed to harmonise strategies on migration from analogue to digital broadcasting by December 2012
The national information agency in Rwanda, ORINFOR, has already entered a Rwf 14.3 billion deal with a US company, Harris Corp, to upgrade their broadcasting network, countrywide, by the end of the year.
During the event, Uganda’s Minister for ICT, Aggrey Awori, hailed the Congress as an opportunity to crystallise and consolidate ICT development strategies ahead of the regional integration into the East African Community.
“As our Governments discuss ways of enhancing cooperation and regional integration, it is initiatives such as EACO that will eventually transform our sister states into a regional digital village linked to the global information society.
“It is imperative, therefore, that we identify priority ICT-areas and related communication initiatives that need to be addressed so as to foster development of communications in our countries at a regional level,” an EACO statement quotes Awori as saying.
He added that the region had already benefitted from EACO-led initiatives such as the introduction of the underground sea cables and the reduction of local tariffs.
He urged the delegates to focus on the creation of an East African Information Society in a regionalised and globalised world.
Other resolutions reached at the Congress were; the implementation of a postal code project to enable house-to-house delivery of mail; adoption of high-capacity undersea cables in all the member states and establishing a permanent EACO Secretariat.
Uganda was elected to head EACO for one year.