THE South Sudan-based Gemtel Telecommunication Company pays Uganda Telecom Ltd $50,000 (sh87.5m) per month for using its code, Parliament heard yesterday.
The Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Ham Mulira, told Parliament that: â€œAt the current levels, UTL earns on average $50,000 per month from the arrangement.â€
Appearing before the commissions and statutory committee, Mulira was reacting to MPsâ€™ queries on whether Gemtel was illegally using Ugandaâ€™s country code (+256).
The minister explained: â€œArticle 42 of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) gives a framework under which a country can allow another country to use its code.â€
He cited the country code +1 that is shared by many countries including USA, Canada and Bermuda.
Mulira said all the countries listed are officially registered by the ITU. He argued that Gemtel provides jobs to Ugandans and pays taxes to UTL under a commercial arrangement.
Asked if there were any security risks involved, Mulira said: â€œThere are no risks. The Ugandan government entered into an agreement with that of South Sudan.â€
The minister stressed that the telecommunications firm was using Ugandaâ€™s country temporarily. According to an April 26, 2006 letter, the works minister, John Nasasira, introduced Gemtel to the director of transport and communication.
Nasasira stated that the South Sudan minister of telecommunications and postal services had requested him to authorise UTL to interconnect them, as they finalise the process of procuring a country code from the ITU. â€œUTL does not sell SIM cards and airtime to South Sudan, neither can the SIM cards work there. It is only an interconnection arrangement between UTL and Gemtel,â€ Mulira clarified.
UTL gets sh88m from Sudan country code deal