NCA has no business verifying SIM Registration biodata with NIA database – Official

National Communications Authority (NCA)
National Communications Authority (NCA)

Director of Consumer and Corporate Affairs at the National Communications Authority (NCA), Nana Defie Badu has said that the NCA is under no legal obligation to verify the biodata it collects during the ongoing SIM registration against the database of the National Identification Authority (NIA).

At Stage 2 of the ongoing SIM Registration, telcos use an App created by KelniGVG for the NCA to collect applicants’ biodata and that data goes straight to a storage facility at the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) without being verified against the NIA’s database behind the Ghana Card, which is the only ID card valid for SIM registration.

Nana Badu said, Executive Instrument 63, 2020, only enjoins NCA to build a verifiable, clean and secured centralized SIM Register just like several other state institutions such as the Passport Office, DVLA, SSNIT, Electoral Commission and others also have their unique databases outside of the NIA’s database.

According to her, the biodata being stored at NITA forms the basis of the to create the legally required SIM register NCA is building for the country.

Nana Badu was speaking on Atinka TV’s Oman mu Nsem with Owuahene Acheampong in a one-on-one interview about the ongoing SIM registration and its recently challenges.

She explained that the SIM Registration process only uses the Stage 1 – *404# – to establish the ownership of the Ghana Card used in linking a SIM card. Once the NIA confirms the ownership of the card by sending a unique confirmation code to that phone number via the *404#, the telcos are then allowed to actually register the SIM for the owner of the Ghana Card, which is what is christened Stage 2.

But now, she said, because of the fraudulent SIM registrations going on, which has been identified to be mainly through the use of the NIA’s confirmation codes generated at Stage 1, that part of the process will be completely abolished from May 31, 2023.

According to her, ahead of May 31, the telcos have been stopped from registering completely new SIM cards with *404# at Stage 1 and they have instructed to use on the App to register completely new SIM cards.

Nana Badu explained that Stage 1 is where the SIM owner links the SIM to the Ghana Card and gets a confirmation code from the NIA before moving on the Stage 2 to get the SIM actually registered to enter the SIM Register.

But some agents who were participating in the registration process got access to the NIA confirmation codes of some Ghana Card holders and started using them to fraudulently link those Ghana Cards to other SIM cards.

According to Nana Badu, the telcos also asked permission from the NCA for their agents who did not have smartphones to be allowed to use the old (legacy) process to register and activate new SIMs with a proviso that those new SIMs will then be made to go thorough the current process. But the agents abused that special regime by linking some of those SIM cards to other people’s Ghana Cards, so that regime has also been suspended.

Meanwhile, the result of that abuse is that several people have reported finding up to 18 other SIM cards linked to their Ghana cards after checking with the NCA’s short code -*402*1#.

But according to Nana Badu, a close look at the reports coming in, indicates that an overwhelming majority of the cases involve a numbers in close succession to each other, which means that telcos knew about them and they knew which agents perpetrated the fraud but they (the telcos) kept quiet until the issue went viral in the media.

She however assured the public that because those unscrupulous agents could not continue the process to Stage 2, they have not breached the central SIM register and the details of the Ghana Cards linked to those fraudulent SIMs are also intact and very much secure.

Meanwhile, some 11 million SIM cards, which have completed Stage 1, but have not done Stage 2, and those who have not even started SIM registration at all will be completely deactivated on May 31, 2023, and Nana Badu is confident that once that is done, and the process is limited to the only the use of the App, the incidents of fraudulent SIM registration will be eliminated.

Additionally, NCA will work with the telcos to clean up their current SIM registers before rolling the data over into the central SIM register.

Nana Badu noted that so far the NCA has identified some sanctionable conducts by the telcos but was yet to take action, adding that things continue they way they, NCA will be compelled to start sanctioning telcos.

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