I have been following discussions on the ongoing SIM registration process on several WhatsApp / Social Media platforms, and I believe there are a lot of misinformation and misunderstanding about the process.
I don’t speak on behalf of MoCD or NCA, but I speak as a citizen , having shared my insights with a number of respected individuals, and I believe that this sharing this rather long post (my apologies) with the public (as my personal understanding) could help shape the discussion and correct some misinformation and misunderstanding about the process.
I do appreciate the concerns raised about customers being frustrated when going through the registration and indeed, the fact that citizens are queuing to re-register means that they appreciate the directive on SIMReg, and the need to fight crime and fraud collectively by having a credible SIM identity and ownership.
As we are all aware, the ongoing process is to ensure that all active SIMs within the Ghana mobile industry are properly registered with biometric data and matched with the GhanaCard details. Prior to the ongoing registration process, there were extensive stakeholder engagements by the Ministry, NCA, MNOs etc and there continues to be extensive engagements whiles the process is still ongoing.
The previous SIM registration regime had alot of active SIMs that were not registered to legitimate owners and presented a difficulty in fighting crime, Momo & SIM Box fraud, identify theft etc. Although the current re-registration presents the challenge of some inconvenience with the physical registrations, which is even made more problematic under COVID conditions, it is necessary that such procedures are undertaken to prevent fraud and deliver a credible SIM identity and ownership.
Let me reiterate that I understand and fully appreciate the concerns about the inconvenience and I have read about some reported system transmission challenges, but so far, I have not seen or read about any superior solution or alternatives that addresses these concerns, without compromising the integrity of the SIMReg process.
The physical collection of biodata records at the point of registration is to match what is in the central national database for verification/validation. This can be compared to the physical collection of your biodata (facial, iris, fingerprints, etc) to digitally match and verify your passport details in the international registry when you travel.
The assurances from MoCD and NCA are absolute. The MNOs DO NOT STORE any bio data and there is NO INTENTION to create a parallel national ID system with the SIMReg process. The National ID Card System Registration managed by NIA) is the ONLY legally recognized national ID system in Ghana for citizens.
The Ghana SIMReg process has to be very robust to serve the required role in building the digital economy. Without the physical verification, there exists a high probability that individuals could provide the GhanaCard details of others to register and activate a SIM card, which could be used for fraudulent activities ……how does the Mobile Network Operator confirm / verify that you are the one who owns the GhanaCard? This must be system validated and not just a facial inspection. A simple thing like having a WhatsApp number, activated from an unregistered SIM is a big security risk globally.
These are some of the challenges that I believe informed the directive from the Hon Minister for MoCD for the SIM re-registration. For now, Ghana can’t compare the robustness of the national ID systems to that of the US and other developed countries, but I believe we will surely get there.
As we modernize, our environment is exposed to threats in the cyber space and not forgetting that the SIM is a powerful ‘tool’ with the capacity to trigger and control several activities within the cyber environment even remotely, so securing a robust cyber ecosystem goes beyond the financial sector.
– Meteorological Services
– Human, National, Security
– Social Protection
– Content / Entertainment
– Land Title Registry & Administration etc etc
I am aware that there are regular engagements between MNOs, NCA and the MoCD. For any new directive and its implementation, there would always be some challenges. These challenges are considered extensively to have Technical Teams work around the clock to resolve the issues as they emerge.
Per the recent statement from NCA, MNOs have also been encouraged to expand their outlets to accommodate the numbers. Additionally, instead of customers performing the first stage of the registration i.e. *404# to link their SIM to their Ghana Card before going to the MNO outlet for the 2nd stage of bio capture and Likeness test, some prefer to go and do all at the MNOs which contribute to the queues..
We must all be accommodating enough as efforts are underway to establish a credible SIM database that serve our common good as a people. We are fighting fraud, crime and impersonation.
If there are robust ways to address the problem, I am sure the Ministry/ NCA will be ready to listen and action the required.
Let’s support MoCD and NCA in constructive ways to make this work.
As we are being patriotic with the ongoing SIMReg process, we should equally be responsible and observe the Covid-19 protocols.
Nenyi Kobina Andahkwei VI
aka Nenyi George Andah