Last year, the government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization, gave a directive that all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards should be reregistered over a six-month period spanning October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022 using the Ghana Card.
That is to synchronize the details on one's Ghana Card, a national identification card, with those used for the SIM registration to avoid the situation where some unscrupulous persons acquire a number SIM cards using different unverified details so they can avoid being found out when they perpetrate crime.
The initiative is, therefore, meant to stem the increasing incidents of fraud using the phone and also to monitor and track down persons who would use their phones for all manner of criminal activities.
In other words, it is meant to secure the country's cyberspace.
Unfortunately, as it is the case that Ghanaians always want to do things on the verge of deadlines, three months are gone and it is now that people are serious with the directive.
It is now commonplace to see people in long queues at the various telecommunication offices and centres in Accra hoping to have their SIM cards reregistered.
Some subscribers say they had to go to the reregistration venues as early as 3:00 a.m. while others had to return to the venue on a second day as they could not be served the previous day, adding that it was stressful going through the exercise.
MTN Ghana, a mobile telephony company, seems to be alive to the problems as in a public announcement on Wednesday, it directed its subscribers to visit its branches, connect stores, distributor branches, light retail stores (volume management centres), retail centres and agent touch points across the country to be served in order to reduce the congestion at service centres.
However, this is not enough as subscribers also talk about network breakdowns and slowness.
The Ghanaian Times agrees with the suggestion the re-registration should be done on phone rather than having lots of people congregating at service centres to do it.
In an era of digitalization, the walk-in re-registration, not fresh registration, exposes the country as being ill-prepared for a full-hog digitalization journey and such a problem must be addressed sooner than the lay man can imagine.
The health aspect of the exercise, which should be given serious consideration.
Subscribers complain of stress and stress is debilitating as the record says in the short term, stress can leave some people anxious, tearful and struggling to sleep, but over time, it can trigger heart attacks, strokes, and even suicidal thoughts, and kill the patient.
Complaints of COVID-19 measures not being strictly observed also call for greater concern since we know the pandemic spreads faster in the midst of crowds and the result is anybody's guess.
The other problem is that some subscribers complain of loss of their Ghana Card or not receiving it at all after registering for it. Meanwhile, this is the only identification card accepted for the SIM reregistration and fresh registration.
In the face of all the problems, the Ghanaian Times wishes to suggest that a quick evaluation of the exercise must be done to see if everyone could be covered by the March 31 deadline and measures put in place to ensure the safety of subscribers otherwise the stipulated time must be extended.
Under such a circumstance, extending the period would help to save subscribers all the hassles and get them all captured so that the full benefit of the SIM re-registration exercise can be realized.