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Owners of 13.7m SIM Cards boycotted re-registration

More than one year after re-registration of SIM cards commenced, owners of 13.7 million (13,790,656) made no attempt to register their SIM cards as at end of September 2022.

This represents 32.72% of the 42.7 million (42,749,662) total SIM cards issued in the country.

The first stage of the registration process is to link ones Ghana Card to the SIM Card and then capture biometric details linked to Ghana card as the second stage is to complete the process and be fully registered.

28.9m completed stage 1 registration

Data released by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation shows that  out of the 42.7 million (42,749,662) total SIM cards issued in the country, some 28.9 million (28,959,006) SIM Cards have been linked to Ghana Card (Stage 1 registration); representing 67.28%

18.9m SIM cards fully registered

Out of this 18.9 million (18,930,664) SIM Cards have been fully registered (Completed both Stages 1 and 2) – representing 44.28% of the total SIM cards issued.

Those who have completed stage 2 of the registration process which involves linking biometric data to the SIM represent 69.64% of the 28.9 million (28,959,006) SIM Cards lined to  Ghana Card (Stage 1 registrations).

10m complete stage 1

This means that over 10 million (10,028,342) SIM Cards which Ghana Cards  have been linked to are yet to be linked to biometric data to complete the re-registration process.

In a summary, 23.8 million (23,818,998) SIM Cards made up of  13.7 million (13,790,656) which no attempt has been made to register and 10 million (10,028,342) which have been linked to Ghana Cards but yet to provide biometric data risk being blocked.

Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful Minister of Communications and Digitilisation in a statement said all SIM cards not fully registered will be blocked “progressively” when the month of October ends.

She said all SIM cards linked to Ghana Cards, but have not completed their second stage registration will be blocked from the end of October.

This, she said is not an extension of the deadline but a temporary moratorium to encourage these individuals to complete the process advising that if they have any peculiar challenges, they should contact the National Communications Authority (NCA).

She warned that all other unregistered SIMs will also be blocked progressively.

The Minister said all data-only SIMS, including those issued by Surfline, Busy Internet, Telesol, and any institution such as Electricity Company of Ghana, have up to the end of November to complete registration.

She cautioned those who had registered more than 10 SIM Cards for personal use to delink the unwanted SIM cards immediately because any excess over the individual limit of 10 per person would be removed from the database and blocked.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said NCA had been directed to conduct mystery shopping and enforce the law against such persons and their collaborators, adding that, persons found guilty could be imprisoned for up to five years.

She said the NCA was in discussions with the National Identification Authority (NIA) on registered amputees and other categories of persons.

It said provisions made earlier for SIM cards active outside Ghana and diplomats still stood.

“… 14 million Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians can sleep safely, comforted by the fact that their 18.8 million SIM cards are safe and secure. We have made good progress, and this is a collective gain that we must celebrate,” the statement said.

“There is no excuse for this since these individuals have their Ghana Cards, have started the process and had ample opportunity to fully register their SIM cards, including through the use of the self-registration app which is the first of its kind in the world,” it said.

She said the Ministry would continue to engage the National Identification (NIA) to expedite the issuance of Ghana cards so that others would get theirs to register their SIMS.

She commended the millions of Ghanaians and non-Ghanaians resident in Ghana who had  registered their SIMS cards in accordance with the directives since the process commenced on October 01, 2021.

The minister said the primary objective of the exercise was to protect all against fraud, promote collective security and advance Government’s transformational digital agenda.

13.7m unique Counts of Ghana Cards used

Also, 13.7 13,720,687 unique Counts of Ghana Cards have been used so far for the registration exercise.

Regulation 1(b) of the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulations, 2011 (L.I 2006) states that “A network operator or service provider shall not activate a Subscriber Identity Module for a subscriber unless the subscriber complies with the directives given by the Authority under the Act and the National Communications Authority Act, 2008, (Act 769) on the registration of Subscriber Identity Module.”

This imposes a legal obligation on all Network Operators to activate only SIMs registered in the manner prescribed by the NCA on their network.

Any SIM which is not duly registered in accordance with NCA directives cannot be activated on any network in Ghana.

The Authority, NCA, therefore, has the power to issue directives detailing the entire procedure for SIM registration and to impose penalties/sanctions for noncompliance with the Directives.

First deadline

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.

Second deadline

The deadline was extended to Sunday, July 31, 2022.

Third deadline

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.

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