No Ghana Card, no registration of SIM cards from October – Ursula

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, communications minister

The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said Ghanaians and foreigners who do not have the Ghana Card cannot re-register their SIM cards beginning October 2021.

Speaking at a press conference in the capital Accra on Sunday, she said the exercise is mandatory for all citizens and non-citizens living in Ghana.

Owusu-Ekuful announced that individuals are required to use only their Ghana Cards for registration.

“The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation will launch the National SIM Card Registration Exercise across the country next month. 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.

“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 said.

She said it has become imperative to re-do the registration again because miscreants managed to compromise the existing system making it difficult “to track and trace people who commit crimes with the SIM cards.”

“This isn’t the first attempt to register SIMs but all the previous efforts failed because of the lack of a verifiable secure identification document. The above situation also led to the influx of pre-registered SIM Cards in the system hence our inability to track and trace people who commit crimes with the SIM cards. The prevalence of fake IDs and a non-existent 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. The Ghana card provides the basis for a successful sim registration exercise this time,” Owusu-Ekuful said.

Benefits of registration

She outlined some of the benefits of SIM registration as follows :

SIM registration, when undertaken correctly as we intend to do, will reduce or eliminate 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. 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 utilize 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.

Modalities for SIM registration

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 Regulations which states that:

a) “A network operator or service provider that provides international roaming service in the country to a subscriber from another country shall enter into an agreement with the network operator or service provider of that subscriber”.

b) “The agreement shall provide for the particulars of the subscriber in the records of the network operator or service provider during the period that the subscriber uses the Subscriber Identity Module in the country”.
We believe that enforcing this will address the potential issue of would be fraudsters and criminals using SIM Cards from other countries to roam on Ghanaian networks to engage in crime.

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 COVID 19 pandemic and to facilitate E education.

9. For the very first time in Ghana, there will be a SIM Register just like countries like Brazil, Germany and Switzerland, which will serve as a database giving comprehensive statistics regarding number of subscribers in Ghana and providing a resource for tracking fraudsters and criminals.

10. Barring any unforeseen eventualities, SIM Registration will begin on 1st October, 2021 for a six (6) month period and end on 31st March, 2022. Any sim which is not registered at the end of this exercise will be blocked.

11. The NIA is opening Regional and District Offices to enable Ghanaians who have not registered for their Ghana Card to be able to do so and we encourage all Ghanaians and Foreigners resident in Ghana to ensure that they have their Ghana Cards and Non-Citizen Ghana Card ready. In addition, those who have registered but have not picked up their Ghana Cards should be able to do so from the various NIA offices.

Source: Daily Mail GH

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