A leading research and public policy think tank, CUTS International, Accra is urging the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation to extend the mobile SIM card registration deadline to the end of the year.
According to the firm, the majority of Ghanaians have logistical challenges in obtaining NIA card and using same to register their SIM.
Speaking to a cross-section of the press in Accra on Monday, the West African Regional Director for CUTS International, Appiah Kusi Adomako said though he understood the rationale behind the mandatory SIM card registration and the implication of unregistered SIM cards on crime prevention and detection as well on government domestic revenue mobilisation measures, extending the deadline to the end of the year would ensure that those who have not registered would be able to do so.
“We are also not unmindful that not everyone would get registered should it be extended to the end of the year, but those who would take advantage of the extension to register would outnumber those who would not register”, he explained.
“As a consumer protection organisation, we have received numerous concerns from consumers about the difficulty they go through in acquiring the Ghana Card to enable them to register their sim cards. Some registered during the mass registration exercise in 2019 but haven’t received their cards up to date. A release from the NIA indicated that about 800,000 Ghanaians are yet to receive or pick up their printed cards as of July 21, 2022. Others have misplaced their cards, whilst others have errors on the spelling of their names, first-time registrants among others,” he added.
Mr Adomako further said “some people have had to abandon their work, wake up at dawn to join long queues at the NIA registration offices but are unsuccessful, thus extending the deadline will give them ample time to get the Ghana cards and register their SIM cards.”
He revealed that telecom firms risk losing huge volume of revenue from their customers should the deadline not be extended.
“Some have taken microloans from mobile operators and disabling their sim card would create a substantial loss to the industry players. Government on the other hand also risk losing huge amount of revenue from electronic transactions (e-levy) from customers should the deadline stay as it is” he opined.
As a way to compel those who have not registered their SIM cards to register, perhaps, he urged the Ministry of Communications to adopt a phased limitations on SIM card starting from 1st September 2022.
This, he pointed out, could include limiting the amount of mobile money that an unregistered SIM can send and or receive to a maximum of ¢100.00 per day and maximum internet bundle to say 100MB per day.
On his path, the Communication and Advocacy Lead for CUTS International, Shadrack Nii Yarboi Yartey said the use of mobile phone had become an integral part of our everyday lives.
“Its usefulness is enormous and has become a great source of livelihood for most Ghanaians. Disabling the sim cards of Ghanaians who haven’t registered their sim card is like depriving them of their livelihood,” he added.
Mr Yartey is therefore appealing, on behalf of consumers, for government to heed the call and extend the deadline.
He also called on the telecos to improve both data and call network connectivity, and customer service delivery to consumers.