Hundreds of subscribers of telecommunication companies yesterday thronged the offices and service centres of the companies to register their SIMs to avoid deactivation.
The subscribers were aiming to register their SIMs before the deadline of the SIM registration exercise which commenced in October 2021.
Per the National Communication Authority (NCA), as at the end of April this year, about 11 million active but unregistered SIMs risk deactivation from networks following the end of the exercise.
The offices and service centres in Accra, notably the Accra Mall MTN office, Ring Road MTN office, Circle Vodafone office, Airport Vodafone office, Osu MTN office, Osu AirtelTigo office, Achimota MTN office, among others, were all crowded by subscribers waiting on their turn to register their SIMs.
Mr Emmanuel Gorman told the Ghanaian Times in an interview, that, he delayed in registering his SIM because he did not have the required document, which is the Ghana Card.
"I got my Ghana card last week and I'm currently going through the registration process. We must be given ample time to register our SIMs. They must not rush us at all. Now look at the office, the whole place is choked and it's not healthy at all," he stated.
Another subscriber, Agnes Takyi, also asked the NCA to not issue any deadline for SIM registration.
"Rather, they should intensify sensitisation so that we the citizens will appreciate why it is important for all of us to register our SIMs and they see that more subscribers will register their SIMs," she added.
For Mr John Mensah, although the NCA was undertaking a good exercise, it was becoming too tedious to secure a Ghana Card, hence his call on the government to pause the SIM registration until such a time all Ghanaians have taken delivery of their Ghana Card.
Mr Joe Anokye, Director General of the NCA, in a press conference in April this year, said the 11 million SIMs facing deactivation include diplomats, refugees, and Ghanaians on official duties outside the country, who were exempted from the current exercise.
Others, he said, include subscribers who have registered some of their SIMs, people with Ghana Cards who have refused to register, as well as others without Ghana cards.
According to Mr Anokye, at the inception of the SIM registration exercise on October 1, 2021, there were 42,749,709 active SIMs registered with various forms of identification, such as the NHIA card, passport, driver's licence, etc used for registration.
He noted that, however, a lot of the IDs were not verified at the time they were being used to register the SIMs.
"Out of the 36,571,257 SIMs registered as at April 25, 2023, 25,448,962 SIMs have completed both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the SIM registration exercise using the Ghana Card, and have been fully registered and stored in the central SIM database.
Speaking about the integrity of the SIM database, Mr Anokye said "we wish to assure the general public that the SIM Database has not been breached. In the first place, there has been no unauthorised access to the SIM registration database; the identified abuses of stage one process, which has been resolved, do not amount to unauthorised access to the SIM Registration database."
He further assured the public that the Authority was working with mobile network operators to deploy shortcode *402*1# for subscribers to check the details linked to their Ghana Cards.
"Effective May 1, 2023, subscribers will be able to use the shortcode to check how many SIMs are linked to their Ghana Cards and will also be able to contact the customer care centres of their MNO to delink unwanted numbers," Mr Anokye said.
Mr Anokye explained that the SIM Registration exercise was necessary for building trust and confidence in the use of telecommunications, financial, and other essential services, as a reliable SIM register would aid security and law enforcement activities, protect Ghana's common peace, and promote socio-economic development.