National SIM Card Registration Exercise To Commence On 1st October – Ursula Owusu

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The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation (MoCD), Ursula Owusu Ekuful who doubles as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West Constituency in the Greater Accra Region has disclosed that the new date for the much awaited Subscriber Identify Module (SIM ) Card registration kick start on 1st October, 2021.

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Addressing the media, the law maker stated that, the importance of digitalisation in our rapidly growing society cannot be overemphasized.

The pivotal nature of this sector was brought to the fore with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as indeed ICT played and continues to play an enormous role in ensuring continuity of work and business processes in every sector of the economy.

According to her, many institutions today are using digital platforms that make it easy to work from home and other locations to assist in promoting safety protocols and limit the spread of the virus.

Mrs. Ekuful disclosed that the mastery of technology is what separates developed countries from developing ones, or rich countries from poor countries.

“This is a gap we have to bridge, We will work assiduously with all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in a concerted manner to attain this objective,” the Minister added.

According Mrs. Ekuful, the expanded mandate of the MoCD to include digitalisation will ensure that the Government’s multi sectoral Digital Agenda is properly coordinated by this Ministry.

This requires the integration and possible expansion of existing digital infrastructure, applications and services to prevent duplication, fragmentation, and waste of scarce resources.

Mrs. Ekuful also mentioned that the MoCD will launch the National Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Card Registration Exercise across the country in October, 2021.

The SIM Registration Regulations, 2011, L.I 2006 mandates network operators or service providers to activate a SIM only after the subscriber registers the SIM as directed by the National Communications Authority (NCA).

Explaining further on the requirements for the SIM registration, Mrs. Ekuful mentioned that every subscriber is required to provide the name and residential or occupational address, date of birth, in the case of an individual; and Certificate of Incorporation, in the case of a body corporate; or registration, in the case of a partnership or an unincorporated body of persons; and an identification document.

Mrs. Ekiful stressed that only the National Identity Card (Ghana Card) issued to an individual shall be used for registration of SIM cards of Citizens, Foreign Residents and Foreigners staying in Ghana for more than 90 days. In the case of foreigners staying in Ghana for less than 90 days, a valid passport or other travel document is required.

The Minister recalled; the prevalence of fake Identities (IDs) and a nonexistent system of verifying the IDs, led to unscrupulous individuals procuring hundreds of SIM Cards for SIM Boxing leading to the loss of revenue for the state.

She explained some benefits of SIM registration as follows;
reduction or elimination of fraudulent and criminal activities, help authorities ascertain the accurate number of valid and accurate SIMs on the networks, enable operators to build better demographics of their customer base and help them develop products and services to suit the various groupings.

According to her, the regulator, NCA, will also get more accurate data to regulate the industry even better.

“SIM Registration will enhance economic growth as more confidence is built in the telecommunications sector and people utilise secure devices to access E-Government services and other private mobile based digital solutions. It will minimize mobile money fraud and support financial inclusion across the vulnerable sectors,” Mrs. Ekuful added.

She explained the modalities for SIM Registration as follows;
1. All new subscribers will have to produce their Ghana card to acquire a new SIM card.

For Businesses to register sims in bulk, the Operators will be required to verify the Business Registration documents with the Registrar General’s Department and verify the identity of the Shareholder or the Director for Limited Liability companies and Public Institutions respectively.

2. Existing subscribers will register their SIMS via USSD and a sim registration App.

3. The verification of all subscribers and businesses will be against the databases of the National Identification Authority and the Registrar General’s Department where necessary. Indeed, for the Businesses, in addition to verifying from the Registrar General’s Department that that Business is valid, a shareholder or director of the organisation will have to personally be linked to the registration of the SIMs.

4. Individuals can register a total number of 10 SIM Cards across all networks and Foreigners will have a limit of 3 SIM Cards across all networks. Let me caution here, that people should not think that they can hide behind Businesses and register as many SIM Cards as they want.

All SIM Cards registered to a Business will be linked to a Shareholder or Director of the Business and if a Business SIM Card is found to have been engaged in a fraudulent activity, the Shareholder or Director will be held liable.

5. The NCA will develop mechanisms to enable subscribers (individual and Businesses) check and verify all SIM Cards which have been registered in their names at all times.

6. Foreigners visiting Ghana can acquire a SIM Card using their Passports or Travel Card but they can only use the SIM Card for 30 days after which it will be deactivated. Foreigners intending to use a SIM Card for more than 30 days will have to obtain the non citizen Ghana Card to do so.

The NCA has made it mandatory for the Operators to verify Passports and Travel Cards against an international database before registering and activating a SIM Card for Foreigners. Special arrangements will be made for diplomatic personnel living and working in Ghana.

7. One of the interesting things we are also doing is to enforce Regulation 6 of the SIM Regulation.

8. The minimum age for registration has been set at 15 years, taking into consideration the increased use of communications services since the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic.

By: Kingsley Asiedu

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