Pressure mounts on Uganda's UCC over Smile Communications fine
The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) is under increasing pressure to recover payment of a Shs1.8-billion fine it imposed on telecommunications operator Smile Communications.
The regulator fined the telco in February 2022 for switching off its network services without consultation.
A year later and to date, the UCC has not recovered the payment.
Commenting on the situation, Uganda’s auditor general John Muwanga said “Because UCC has not put in place measures to recover the money, there was a risk of losing the funds considering that Smile has discontinued its services.”
UCC acting director general Irene Kaggwa said Smile Communications discontinued its services after the American Tower Company (ATC) disconnected it over failure to pay accumulated tower carriage fees.
Kaggwa told the local Monitor newspaper that “the dispute happened at a time when UCC was in the process of considering Smile’s application to migrate to a new licencing regime. The change is still in progress.”
Smile Communications has taken legal action against the ATC claiming the decision to disconnect it was unfair and has also cited “irregular treatment by the tower company”.
The UCC said it will wait for the outcome of the case before deciding on the way forward.
Smile Communications entered the Ugandan market in 2009 providing both voice and data services.
The company’s difficulties started in 2017 when it laid off 50 employees as a result of financial constraints.
The telco also has presence in DRC, Nigeria and Tanzania.