Airtel service shutdown: Customers handed disappointment and excitement

By Nickson Maberi: There was a temporary Airtel service shutdown on June 29th, something that left a section of its customers in utter regret, while others went on an excitement spree.

It was dismay to many as they couldn’t withdraw, send money to their loved ones or even buy data bundles. Winnie Nabakoza, an Airtel customer expressed herself on Twitter as she said that she wasn’t able to withdraw money due to the service interference.

During this time, I had a money transfer from my account to Airtel money, the money was deducted from my bank account but it can’t reflect on my mobile money…

Also read: Bank of Uganda issues license to MTN mobile money, Airtel

On the other hand, several users through out the day went into jubilation upon realising that the voice and internet services on the Airtel network were accessible at no cost. But, let’s dive into the details of the shutdown. What exactly happened?

What caused the temporary Airtel service shutdown?

Airtel Uganda, in a tweet published on their official handle, apologized to its customers for any inconveniences that the service interference might have caused. The interference was a result of technical challenges.

“We are currently experiencing a temporary service interference which is preventing access to some Airtel Money Services. Our technical teams are on the ground to restore the service. All inconveniences caused are highly regretted.” part of the tweet reads.

How long the outage lasted

The temporary service halt which began at the dawn of June 29th continued to affect customers not till late in the night when the services were fully restored as Airtel Uganda finally announced on Twitter.

As of this morning, the services had been restored according to a tweet by Airtel via its social media handle. It apologized for the inconvenience that was caused due to this outage of Airtel Money services. This has been one of the longest hours that an outage of this nature has lasted so far.

In October 2020, Airtel Money services were also inaccessible due to a hack that saw Airtel and MTN lose billions. The hackers gained access to mobile money services for both companies that prompted the telcos to shut down services for 24 hours to allow investigations to take place.

Read also: Mobile money hack investigations heat up, bank employee charged

Airtel makes losses amidst service interference

Albeit, as it dusked in the wee hours of noon, smiles dawned on the faces of Airtel Uganda customers as what seemed to be an inconvenience became a convenience. Airtel Uganda customers were able to make unlimited calls at zero cost, send free text messages and as well use internet services without any running bundle.

If you have an Airtel simcard, you might have received a call from one of those people you least expected and could have  been wondering why.

Fake news

A tweet has been making rounds on social media alleging that all Airtel customers who had used the services at no cost were to be charged in order to compensate for the loss made.

Airtel Uganda, in tweet, came out and distanced itself from the allegations. According to Airtel Ug, no customer is to be charged any extra penny for the services they used without pay during the temporary service halt.


It is not yet certain what could have caused the outage yesterday as the Airtel company simply attributes it technical glitches as stated in its tweet. Efforts to reach Airtel for a comment on the outage were futile at the time of this publication.

Read more: Ugandans to receive covid-19 relief through mobile money

READ: How the Glovo app is easing online delivery in lockdown

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