Nine persons have dragged the National Communication Authority (NCA) to the High Court over its directives on Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card reregistration.
The NCA had given an ultimatum to mobile phone subscribers to re-register their phone numbers or risked having the numbers blocked by telecommunication companies.
The Authority gave 30 September 2022 as the deadline for people to re-register their sim numbers with a valid Ghana Card issued by the National Identification Authority (NIA).
The NIA, however, had indicated that it would be very difficult for it to issue Ghana Cards to all persons by the September 30, 2022, deadline.
The nine persons filed an application for judicial review of the Mobile Phone Sim Card re-registration directives describing the directives as punitive.
Joined in the suit is the Attorney General.
The applicants are praying the court for an order of interlocutory injunction restraining their agent, workmen, contractors’ sub-contractors, and associates deriving authority through the NCA from imposing any punitive measure/ sanctions, including deactivating, restricting, churning, and or in any way or limiting them from using the mobile phone sims and network services until the final determination of the case.
According to the applicants, NCA acted beyond its jurisdiction when it issued the punitive directives requiring them to re-register their mobile phone sim with the Ghana Card as the only identity document on or before September 30.
In a writ filed on September 26, this year, the nine applicants who are customers of MTN, Airteltigo, and Vodafone, said they had applied for Ghana card between 2020 through 2022 but yet to receive them.
The applicants held that since the year 2008 when Act 750 was enacted, the NIA had not been able to register all Ghanaians and other persons entitled to be registered as mandated by law at any point in time.
According to the applicants, its registration process continued to be fraught with technical, human, and funding challenges.
The registration process has been conducted in phases across the country, the applicants held.
They opined that the process of registering and obtaining a Ghana Card was entirely out of their power and control and same entirely rested on the process and mechanisms put in place by the NIA.
Hearing has been fixed for October 6, 2022.
The applicants are Belynda Odey Hammond, Jennifer Elorm Dzikunu, Charity Mansah Afua N. Ackotia, Nsor Sabasi, Jospehine Annor Prempeh, Vida Delacy Kemovor, Regina Elikplim Dagadu, Irene Ayariga and Tracy Ashong.
6 months to retrieve unregistered numbers
The National Communications Authority (NCA) says individuals whose SIM cards will be blocked after the September 30 deadline set for the re-registration exercise can only retrieve them within a six-month grace period.
Failing to redeem the SIM card within six months, the numbers will be churned – that is re-assigned to the pool to be sold to potential new subscribers.
Last year, the government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization, gave a directive that all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards should be reregistered over a six-month period spanning October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 using the Ghana Card.
The deadline was extended to Sunday, July 31, 2022.
The deadline was again extended to September 30, 2022, for the mandatory SIM card registration with the Ghana card to allow users of 26 million (26,062,571) unregistered SIM representing 62% of total voice SIM cards to do so.
The Ghana card-SIM registration exercise is intended to build a SIM database with integrity to curb fraudulent activities and secure sim card-based transactions while aiding the determination of accurate valid SIM cards across telecommunications networks at any point in time.
That is to synchronize the details on one’s Ghana Card, a national identification card, with those used for the SIM registration to avoid the situation where some unscrupulous persons acquire a number SIM cards using different unverified details so they can avoid being found out when they perpetrate crime.
Stemming increasing incidents of fraud
The initiative is, therefore, meant to stem the increasing incidents of fraud using the phone and also to monitor and track down persons who will use their phones for all manner of criminal activities.
Up to the end of December 2022, non-resident Ghanaians without Ghana card can use passport to complete the process via the app but would be required to update details once they acquired the Ghana card.
All visitors to Ghana can now acquire SIM Cards with their passport
All visitors to Ghana can now acquire SIMS with their passport and Airport Authorities have to work with network operators to provide adequate venues for the registration of SIMs at the Airport and these would be valid for three months.
To use the SIM card for long period visitors must acquire the non-citizen identification card to validate their SIMs.
Ghanaians on official assignment outside the country or students on scholarship
Ghanaians on official assignments outside the country or students on scholarship who could not acquire Ghana card by December are to contact the NCA.
Members of the diplomatic corps
Special provisions have already been made for members of the diplomatic corps in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.
A decision is to be taken with the NIA on modalities for amputees and others with physical challenges who had difficulty registering their SIMs.