The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Telecommunications Chamber, Dr. Kenneth Ashigbey, says stakeholders in the ongoing sim re-registration process need to find ways to get people to register their sim cards.
According to him, whereas a chunk of the population have genuine reasons for not being registered, some Ghanaians who have already gone through with linking their Ghana Cards to their sim cards have refused to go ahead with their bio-capture at the various telco centres.
This, he says, is stalling the process to clear out the backlog of unregistered sim card users in the system.
Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Dr. Ashigbey said this might also have to do with the announcement of the deadline extension by the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
“So yesterday, in the morning there were a large group of people in the queues waiting to be registered. The moment the minister announced an extension, people started leaving the queues and saying that they were going home and they’ll be back.
“And even today I was on Adom FM just before I came here, and they were showing videos that actually show that the places that were fully packed are completely empty. So it is really important that as we take out those who genuinely do not have the card or cannot register, those of us, the 20% that have done only the 404 but have not done the bio-capture, we need to find a way of pushing these people to get the registration done,” he said.
His comments confirm earlier statements by the Communications Minister concerning the refusal of some Ghanaians to complete the re-registration process.
On Sunday while announcing the deadline extension for the sim re-registration exercise, she had revealed that after the announcement of the first deadline extension to 21st March, there has been a 90% drop in sim registrations across the country.
Until a week ago, there were no queues at any registration center. People started rushing to register when they realized the deadline was imminent after going to sleep when it was extended.
“About 50% of those who have completed the first stage of the process have not concluded the second stage. They have linked their SIMS to the Ghana card so that cannot be attributed to Ghana card challenges,” she said.
She noted that while she has reluctantly agreed to another deadline extension, people who fail to complete the process by the end of the new month will face a range of punitive measures.
“The program will be extended to 30th September to end on the anniversary of its commencement. That will give us one full year of SIM registration. It will be reviewed at the end of this 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. It will also be more expensive to use unregistered SIMs.
“The full range of punitive measures will be announced at another press briefing in September. Kindly do not blame your service provider when you suffer that fate due to your own inaction. To be forewarned is to be forearmed,” Ursula Owusu-Ekuful warned.
The Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey believes the September 30, 2022 deadline for SIM re-registration will be enough as long as government “takes some serious steps.”
Speaking on the Point of View on Citi TV, Mr. Ashigbey said “the total number of Ghanaians who are yet to receive their Ghana cards is about 2.97 million, and then we have some 808,000 who had not received their cards as at the last time I collected data. That brings us to about 3.781 million Ghanaians yet to receive their cards. If we divide that by 61 days and then by 275 district offices plus the 16 Regional offices, the NIA should be doing 165 registrations daily.” “This is not impossible to do,” he added.
Mr. Ashigbey acknowledges that the main challenge to be faced in meeting the deadline will be easy access to the NIA centres. He thus recommended that government supports the NIA to take the registration to the doorstep of Ghanaians.
“Just as politicians take voter registrations to the doorstep of Ghanaians at the polling centres, I will recommend that government provides NIA with extra resources such that they are able to deploy as close as possible to the citizens.”
He also urged government to collaborate with the NIA to ensure that persons living with disabilities are registered.
The government set July 31 as the deadline for all persons to re-register their SIM cards with their Ghana Cards. People who fail to comply with the directive will have their SIM cards deactivated.
The regulations are to help law enforcement agencies to identify SIM card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb phone theft, hate text messaging, mobile fraud activities and SIM Box fraud.
They are to also help identify subscribers for the use of value-added services such as mobile banking, mobile money and electronic payment services.
However, not all Ghanaians have been able to secure their Ghana Card.
The National Identification Authority has indicated that 15,702,719 cards have been issued while 808,493 cards have been printed but not issued.
Government thus extended the deadline for the re-registration to September 30, 2022.
It has also created a self-service registration application to ease the registration process.