We oppose the use of policy to inconvenience Ghanaians – Minority reacts to SIM card re-registration


A cross section of the Minority side of Parliament A cross section of the Minority side of Parliament

• The Minority in Parliament wants the NCA to make certain changes in the ongoing SIM re-registration exercise

• Among others, they want other forms of identification to be admitted for the exercise

• The Minority believes the current requirement is an affront to the right of Ghanaians

The Minority in Parliament has indicated strong opposition to any move by the government to ‘unnecessarily’ inconvenience the Ghanaian citizen with the SIM card re-registration exercise.

At a press conference addressed by its Ranking Member on Parliament’s Committee, Samuel Nartey George, the Minority among other things argued its opposition to several requirements and clauses associated with the exercise.

“In as much as we support any attempts to sanitize the digital ecosystem, we strongly oppose any abuse of policy to unnecessarily inconvenience the citizens of Ghana. We find it most inappropriate that the policy directive issues a fiat of deactivating SIM cards that are not linked to the Ghana Card within the next six months. This we believe is a retrospective application of legislation and a tunnel visioned approach to sanitizing the industry.

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“The current legislation that backs SIM registration in Ghana is the LI 2006 passed by Parliament in 2011. This legislation saw the registration that happened in 2012. This legislative instrument does not mandate the linkage of the Ghana Card to activate SIM cards. The National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) and LI 2111 which introduces the use of the Ghana Card as the principal document for registration of SIM cards and Bank Accounts amongst others cannot be applied retrospectively to SIM cards that were registered legally and legitimately under the existing LI 2006. Section 7 of LI 2111 makes the use of the Ghana Card mandatory but does NOT make it the sole card for the purposes of registration,” the minority stated.

According to the Minority, it holds the position that the decision by the NCA to deactivate SIM cards not re-registered by March 2022 will be an affront to the rights of Ghanaians.

“To break this down, this new directive is akin to the Bank of Ghana issuing a fiat that bank accounts would be closed if account holders do not link their accounts to the Ghana Card. After all, the NIA act also mandates that Bank Accounts need to be backed by Ghana Cards. Another inconceivable scenario would be the Passports Office issuing a statement that all passports must be revalidated because a few holders may have falsified the birth certificates or other primary documents used to acquire their passports. This is how ludicrous it sounds that to deal with some instances of fraudulently acquired SIM cards by unscrupulous persons would demand that all SIM cardholders must go back to register their SIM cards. This is simply not a pragmatic approach.

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“The claim that linking a SIM card to the Ghana Card would prevent fraud is flawed. The Ghana Card database is full of largely unverified GhanaPost GPS addresses which were hastily generated at NIA registration centres and not linked to the physical addresses of the registrants. It is important to note that residential mobility is high among the majority of Ghanaians and as such addresses in the NIA database cannot be the basis for an anticipated fight against SIM-based digital crime,” the Minority said.

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In lieu of their position on the ongoing SIM re-registration exercise expected to end on March 31, 2022, the Minority has tabled some recommendations bridled with various demands on the NCA.

The Minority’s recommendations include;

1. The immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of valid SIM cards by March 2022

2. The scrapping of the physical visit to an agent of a service provider for authentication of registration document

3. An integrated referencing of databases of the Passport Office, DVLA, NHIA and SSNIT with the NIA database whose cards were used largely as primary registration documents for previous SIM registrations.

4. The use of Passports, Driver’s License and Voter’s ID cards to allow for the inclusion of more Ghanaians in the registration process.

“We urge the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization to take these steps in good faith. We believe this would actually accelerate our digital ecosystem in this age of COVID-19. We have also spoken to our lawyers to advise us on all legal options open to us on this matter,” the Minority added.

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