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Goverment Clears Sudan to Use Uganda's Code

The government has cleared South Sudan to continue using Uganda's country code (+256) amid protests from a some MPs, pushing for an end to what they described as impunity. Gemtel is a private Southern Sudan mobile phone company that was given leeway by Uganda Telecom Ltd (UTL) to use the national code without parliamentary approval.

But appearing before the ICT Committee on Tuesday, the State Minister for Information and Communication Technology (ICT), Alintuma Nsambu, said South Sudan should continue to use Uganda's dial code "as long as they pay for it".

"Why do you think it's not good for Southern Sudan to use Uganda's country code?" Nsambu asked the ICT Committee members, who wanted the deal, they described as illegal, cancelled. He added: "In any case we gain more if there is a bigger clientele in South Sudan using our code, Uganda Communications Commission will collect more."

The controversy surrounding the code came to the public domain in 2007 after the parliamentary committee on state enterprises learnt that Gemtel was using the country code without paying.

MPs led by Ssebuliba Mutumba (DP, Kawempe South) and Ishaa Otto (UPC, Oyam South) say the government is losing millions of shillings since Gemtel uses the code without paying direct taxes to the government. Pushed to explain who authorised the deal, the senior ICT Minister, Aggrey Awori, said: "I am sure there is an agreement, but this was a political arrangement at the time." Otto said: "This is serious matter and giving away our code to another country is going top far because it has security concerns as a committee we cannot allow this impunity."

The Monitor

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