Government has extended the deadline for the mandatory Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card registration with the Ghana Card to September 30, 2022, to allow users of 26,062,571 unregistered SIMs representing 62 per cent of total voice SIM cards to do so.
The Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who announced the decision at a press briefing in Accra on Sunday said that the extension, which was “conditional” was to provide a full year cycle for the registration exercise.
“It will be reviewed at the end of next month and any SIM that has not been fully registered by the end of August will be barred from receiving certain services, including voice and data services and it will also be more expensive to use unregistered sims,” she said.
After consultation with stakeholders, she said, there had been a reluctance to extend the exercise due to a 90 per cent drop rate in registration when the first extension was announced, with queues building up two weeks to the deadline and about 50 per cent of those who completed the first stage of registration showing reluctance to complete the second stage.
“I have also been informed that people who have obtained quick loans from service providers have decided not to register SIMs to avoid repaying their loans and that is evil corruption, and you will be found out,” she said.
SIM Card Registration: Challenges and Special Provisions
Sharing data from the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Minister indicated that as of July 28, 2022, there were 42,121, 921 voice SIM cards with 25,260,661 voice SIMs completing stage one of the registration process, representing 60 per cent of the total registration.
The Minister said stage one had 16,861,260 unregistered SIM cards representing 40 per cent while 16,590,350 SIMs representing 38 per cent had fully completed the stage one and stage two registration process.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said that the exercise had been bedevilled with challenges such as delay in launching a self-service registration app and the lack of adequate time for publicity and public education on the use of the app.
Other challenges, she said, were issues with the issuance of Ghana cards by the National Identification Authority and the delay in starting broadband wireless registration.
“As of Thursday, July 21, 2022, 16,969,034 have registered for the Ghana Card with about 16,535,623 cards printed and 15, 702,719 have been issued with 832,904 cards yet to be collected,” she said.
“Many data-only SIMs have also not been registered and my information is that their owners were not aware that these SIMS also needed to be registered and those are the SIMs in your MIFIs and other devices,” she said.
Up to the end of December 2022, she said, non-resident Ghanaians without Ghana cards could use passports 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 SIMs with their passport and I encouraged the Airport Authorities 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 them for a long period they must acquire the non-citizen identification card to validate their SIMs,” she said.
She added that Ghanaians on official assignments outside the country or students on scholarship who could not acquire a Ghana card by December should contact the NCA.
“Special provisions have already been made for members of the diplomatic corps in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration.”
She said a decision would be taken with the NIA on modalities for amputees and others with physical challenges who had difficulty registering their SIMs.
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.
The exercise first commenced on October 1, 2021.
The 6-month exercise was expected to end on March 31, 2022, but extended by another four months to July 31, 2022.