The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has said it will work with the Ministry of Communications to prevent the recurrence of the problems that necessitated the government’s directive to phone users to re-register all SIM cards.
The Chief Executive of the chamber, Mr Ken Ashigbey, told the Daily Graphic on Tuesday, October 15, that the chamber welcomed the directive, as it would curtail the use of mobile phones for criminal activities.
He said the industry endorsed it even before it received the regulatory directive from the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who announced the government’s decision at a press briefing last Monday, said phone users had up to June 2020 to re-register their SIM cards or risk losing them.
She explained that the valid ID cards to be used for the re-registration would include driving licences, SSNIT cards, passports and the Ghana Card.
She said a detailed programme would be rolled out by the NCA and that the exercise would be conducted with the telecommunications companies.
Preventing mobile fraud
Commenting on the directive, Mr Ashigbey noted that the re-registration of SIM cards would prevent mobile money fraud, which had reached alarming proportions.
He said once there was a database that the companies could cross-reference, it would be a good starting point.
He indicated that once there was a database to verify those who presented ID cards for SIM card registration, it would be very easy to confirm that the ID card presented was genuine. It would also deter people from using fake ID cards for registration and, subsequently, using them to commit crime.
“With institutions such as the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) complaining about fake licences in the system, and the case of people faking voter identification cards, we need a solid database that is biometric, so that when you send an ID card to a telecom company to register a SIM card, it can be verified,” he said.
He said the numerous ID cards in the system which were difficult to authenticate were a bother to the telecommunications companies, adding that the industry was hopeful of getting to a point when all Ghanaians would have the Ghana Card to make validation easy.
The chief executive also spoke on the timelines given for the re-registration of SIM cards, saying there was the need to reconsider the strict timelines that the minister had given.
“We are sure that consultations will begin immediately, as it has financial implications for our members and impact on our customers. We don’t want anyone left behind and all genuine subscribers will have to be carried along.
“We need to also consider the fact that 2020 is an election year and we would want to minimise any impact on the networks or cutting off subscribers,” he said.
A national SIM card registration exercise was first carried out in 2011, but the NCA subsequently announced that 20 per cent of the particulars used in the exercise was fake.
Parliament, in 2012, adopted the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulations, 2011 (LI 2006) to give backing to the exercise.
The legislation provided that with effect from Saturday, March 3, 2012, no SIM card could be used if it was not duly registered.
But the registration failed to yield the desired result, as the system was fraught with irregularities, to the extent that in 2014, the Ministry of Communications announced another registration plan, but it was not carried out.