Ghana to impose sanctions on unregistered SIM subscribers

Ghana to impose sanctions on unregistered SIM subscribers

Citizens who haven’t re-registered their Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards with Ghana (national) ID would face penalties issued by the National Communications Authority (NCA) from Monday, September 5. This was announced in a press release by the Ghana NCA’s twitter account.

According to the body, voice and data sanction measures would start from September 5 and 12 respectively. “From Monday September 5, 2022, subscribers who have not started their registration will have all outgoing calls re-routed in an Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) for a sim registration sensitisation message to be played before all calls are connected”.

“Punitive measures for data services will however kick in from September 12”.

Ghana NCA press release
Ghana NCA press release | Source: Twitter

Addressing those who have taken the step to start the process but haven’t completed it, they would also face the same measures starting from September 7. However, the defaulters are warned for a 23 to 25 days period until September 30 when full blocking would begin.

“Outgoing calls and data services will be blocked for these affected (unregistered) subscribers for 48 hours once a week once the punitive measures kick in for the month of September, 2022.

Subscribers who have neither begun Stage 1 nor completed Stage 2 of the SIM Registration process will be allowed to reconnect their SIMs after duly completing the two stages of the registration process.

After September 30, 2022, these SIMs as described above will not have access to any service as their SIMs will be deactivated. Subscribers will have a period of six (6) months to register to redeem their SIMs failing which their numbers will be churned – that is re-assigned to the pool to be sold to potential new subscribers”.

Timeline of Ghana ID linking with SIM cards

Ghana Minister of Comms and digitlisation.
Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

This was first announced by the vice president, Mahmudu Bawumia in May last year (2021) during the fifth edition of the Ghana CEO summit; a two day event held in Accra. The move was to ensure accountability and reduction of fraudulent activities to improve the country’s digital economy. In that development, Ghana’s Ministry of Communications tweeted that re-registration process would commence from June till December, 2021.

The registration which began last year in October 1, 2021 was meant to last till March 31, 2022, however, following public outcry, the deadline was extended by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation till July 31, 2022 – stating that citizen s were yet to possess their Ghana IDs – a prerequisite.

Eventually, when the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful announced the launching of a self-registration app on August 1, she confirmed that the deadline was fixed for September 30. The app was to enable resident and non-resident Ghanaians fulfil the registration online – by themselves. “The SIM Registration App will be available for download on both android and IOS this week, barring any unforeseen circumstances. Each registration via the app will be subject to a 5 cedi surcharge”.

Importance of linking IDs with SIM cards

Linking Identification Numbers with SIM cards enable the database of an individual – citizens and residents – recorded by the country for protection and verification of identity.  It can also generate an almost accurate number of mobile phone users in the country.

In frequent cases, SIM linkages have been used to track activities of fraudulent individuals although this has posed a great question on security of citizens since biodata are easily accessed in SIM swap frauds.

In Nigeria, unregistered SIM used to commit kidnapping crimes were regulated by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as this prompted 54 million people to be registered as at May 2021.