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No more deadline extension; all unregistered SIM cards to be blocked October ending

All SIM cards that have been linked to Ghana cards, that is completed Stage 1 registration, but have not completed Stage 2 registration of biometrically verifying users, will be blocked from the end of October 2022.

The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation is not extending the September 30, 2022 deadline.

Rather, it is giving a temporary moratorium to the end of October to encourage individuals to complete the process.

According to the ministry, there are almost 10 million people who have already done Stage 1 of the registration by linking their cards to the Ghana Card, but are yet to go through Stage 2.

For SIM cards that have been linked to Ghana Cards but are yet to complete stage 2 of the process, that is verify it with the users’ biometrics, the total figure is 28,959,006 and involving almost 10 million users.

SIM Card users who have peculiar challenges, are to contact the National Communications Authority (NCA) to have their challenges resolved, the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation has indicated.

The reason is that, the users have the Ghana card, and have started the process of registration but have not been able to complete it and therefore are being encouraged to complete it.

Unregistered SIM cards

All other unregistered SIMs will also be blocked progressively at the end of October 2022, the Ministry of Communication and Digitalisation has stated in a statement.

“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,” the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful indicated in the statement.

“There may be some who are opposed to the SIM Card registration exercise for either ideological, philosophical, or political reasons. Let me just remind them that they may be exercising their right to opt out of this exercise but all actions have consequences. All unregistered SIMs will be deactivated,” she added.

What does the law say?

Regulation 1(b) of the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulations, 2011 (L.I 2006) states that:

This imposes a legal obligation on all Network Operators to activate ONLY SIMs registered in the manner prescribed by the NCA on their network, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated.

“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 non compliance with the Directives,” she added.

Those who still don’t have Ghana Cards

The Minister stated that “as a responsible government, we will ensure that they [NCA] enforce the law to the letter.

“We also acknowledge that some of our citizens have had difficulties obtaining Ghana Cards to enable them undertake their SIM registration, although 1.3 million Ghanaians have also been issued their Ghana cards but have not collected them. This is regrettable and we will continue to engage the National Identification Authority (NIA) to expedite the process.”

She said the NCA is in discussions with the NIA on registered amputees and other categories of persons and will make an announcement shortly on arrangements made to accommodate them. The provision made earlier for SIMs active outside Ghana and diplomats still stands.”

“All data-only SIMs including those issued by Surfline, Busy Internet, Telesol, and any institution such as ECG, have up to the end of November [2022] to complete registration.

More than 10 SIM card registrations for personal use

Some people have registered more than ten (10) SIM cards for personal use in contravention of the SIM card registration directive of 10 SIMs per person, and the database has identified them, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said.

All those SIM cards are to be cleaned from the database.

The culprits, as a matter of urgency, have been asked to delink the unwanted SIM Cards immediately because any excess SIM cards over the individual limit of 10 SIMs per person will be removed from the database and blocked.

It is only institutions, that can register more than 10 SIM cards under the registration directive.

Addressing pre-registered SIMs

“Let me remind all SIM card vendors that it is an offense to pre-register and sell SIM cards,” the minister said in a statement issued Monday (October 17, 2022).

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has been directed to conduct mystery shopping and enforce the law against those miscreants.

“If found guilty, they [vendors] could be imprisoned for up to 5 years,” she added.

Previous SIM card registration

During the previous SIM card registration exercise, which has now been abolished and a new one being done because of some difficulties and challenges with the database, which made it unreliable because of how the registration was done, it was detected that some SIM card vendors pre-registered cards and sold them.

For some vendors, they even used the details of people they did not personally know, and without the consent of those people, they registered SIM cards in their name and sold them to different people. Some also used their own personal details to register many SIM cards for sale.

And so whenever a security issue came up, and the registered name on the card was contacted, in some instances, the security officials uncovered that the person whose details had been used was not even aware that the details had been used to register a SIM card for someone.

In some instances, it happened so because those affected had approached the vendors for assistance to register their own SIM cards, and the vendors kept their details and used it to pre-register other SIM cards for sale.

New process

This is part of the reason for the new process of registration of Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Stage 1 involves linking the SIM card to the Ghana card and Stage 2 is where the user biometrically verifies it before the registration is fully entered into the database as a completed registration.

Per this process, nobody can use another person’s details to register a SIM card without the person’s knowledge.

The primary objective of the SIM Registration exercise, is to protect the public against fraud, promote collective security and advance the transformational digital agenda.

In the press statement issued Monday, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful indicated that the government was fully committed to ensuring that “we have a safe digital ecosystem underpinning our collective cybersecurity.”

“A successful SIM Card registration exercise is an essential part of this goal and I therefore appeal to us all to put our national interest first and do the right thing for this country,” she added.

“As we celebrate our successes on the SIM Card registration, the government will continue to uphold its commitment to protect all citizens. We encourage all of us to live up to our obligations to each other and to the state. We need your cooperation to ensure that this essential SIM Card registration exercise succeeds,” she stated.

 

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