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Hon. Ruhakana Rugunda attacks telecom firms over SMS PDF Print E-mail

The minister for Information Communication and Technology (ICT) Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda recently expressed concern over unsolicited SMS messages sent by telecom companies  to mobile phone users."There is nothing irritating like these messages because one should not bombard my phone with such unsolicited messages," Rugunda said. He said it was right for some phone users to take such companies to court and asked the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) to take up measures against such telecommunication companies.


Rugunda was addressing journalists at Margherita hotel in Kasese municipality, Kasese district. Journalists had asked the minister why government had failed to penalize telecommunication companies which continue to send unnecessary messages to customers' phones.  The messages can fill the inbox making it impossible for the owner to receive his genuine messages. They can even become so many that someone is forced to make a blanket deletion which could cost them valid messages too.

Bob Lyazi, a UCC official who also expressed the same concern mentioned that UCC has started engaging such companies to ensure they regulate their messages.
However,  Rugunda admitted that not all unsolicited messages are bad. Some are beneficial when used for social and economic benefits other than using them on non-gainful issues. There are instances where critical information is conveyed through SMS which is good for the sender and the recipient.  SMSs are a useful tool because it has an extensive coverage. Most of the population own a mobile phone or have access to one where messages can reach hard to reach areas.
There are many innovations in health, agriculture, business and just general information that rely on SMS and in most cases the messages are not solicited. In the agricultural sector, farmers are informed about the  onset of wet and dry seasons, the market  prices of produce and diseases sweeping through an area.  In health, mothers are informed of immunisation and ante-natal clinic days. In governance, citizens are informed  about election days, and qualities of  a good leader among other things.  NGOs use SMSs extensively to inform communities of issues that affect them. Service providers will use them to announce outages and resumption of services for products like electricity, water and telecommunication.

Rugunda further called for adoption of technology in health facilities as a measure to address the shortages of skilled staff, saying with the installation of modern technology, a doctor can be able to consult his fellow medical professionals in international hospitals.

You can find more information on innovations based on Mobile phone technology from our partners:
1. Health Child Programmes http://www.healthchild.org.ug/index.php/programmes
2. Text to Change - http://www.texttochange.org/
More information about ICT industry in Uganda
1. Uganda Communications Commission http://www.ucc.co.ug for more information on the Telecommunications industry and regulation
2. Ministry of ICT http://www.ict.go.ug
This article has been modified from the New Vision article Rugunda attacks telecom firms over SMS http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/633883-rugunda-attacks-telecom-firms-over-sms.html
- by Chris Mugasha, which appeared in the New Vision newspaper on 8th August 2012.

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