Techfocus24 can confirm that the planned complete SIM deactivation scheduled for Thursday, June 1, 2023 has been temporarily suspended and been replaced with complete service disconnection instead.
What this means is that the about nine million SIM cards earmarked for complete deactivation will no longer be deactivated but each of them will lose access to all services except access to *400# and *404#, both of which are linked to SIM registration only.
So the affected SIM holders will not lose their phone numbers but will from midnight tonight lose access to call, SMS, data and mobile money services until they get registered.
This new decision comes after a long meeting between the National Communications and Authority (NCA), the telecoms operators and other stakeholders.
The NCA has since May 1, 2023 issued a public notice that Wednesday, May 31, 2023 is the final deadline for SIM registration, following which also 11 million SIM cards were going to be completely deactivated and the owners will lose their phone numbers.
But the CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr. Kenneth Edem Ashigbey noted that as of May 31, 2023 the number of SIM cards up for deactivation was down to nine million including some seven million mobile money wallets holding at least GHS200 million, and about 280,000 merchant SIM cards.
He said a lot of the affected SIM cards belong to persons who had long applied for Ghana Cards from the National Identification Authority (NIA) but were yet to receive them as the NIA is working at its own pace and not according to SIM registration deadlines.
According to Dr. Ashigbey, there were also the category of SIM owners who may have travelled out of country and have therefore not been to acquire Ghana Cards to then register their SIM card.
He hinted that the NCA was aware of the various categories of SIM owners who may have genuine reasons for having not registered their SIMs and expressed the hope that all that will feed into the final determination of which SIMs should be exempted and which one should be deactivated.
Indeed, there are also categories of SIM holders who have deliberately refused to register their SIM either because they think they are not obliged to do so or they wanted to hide and keep using the SIM cards to commit fraud without being traced.
The stakeholders have therefore been holding a crunch meeting to discuss the various issues surrounding what has actually prevented people from registering their SIM card, and the final decision is rather to suspend all services on the affected SIM until they register.
Meanwhile, loads of Ghanaians have been queueing at the various offices of the NIA with the hope of getting their Ghana Card.
One such applicant has been telling Techfocus24 that she finally got her Ghana Card today only to realize the card was issued way back in 2019 but it is yet to be activated so she was not able to use it for SIM registration.
Take note that even though the nine million affected SIM cards will still remain active on the various networks, the telcos will lose money on them because none of them will generate any revenue until they get registered.
Again, an earlier indication by the NCA, that Stage One of SIM registration, where individuals were allowed to link their own SIM cards to their Ghana Cards via *404#, was going to be abolished, has also been suspended. So Stage One is still part of the process.