The Ghanaian government has extended the deadline for people to register SIM cards with the Ghana Card, the document mandated for SIM registration.
The six-month exercise was expected to end on March 31 2022 but had been extended by another four months to July 31 2022. It should now finish on 30 September.
The Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has been reported as saying that the extension will be reviewed at the end of next month. Any SIM that has not been fully registered by the end of August will be barred from receiving certain services. It will also be more expensive to use unregistered SIMs.
One problem had been a 90 per cent drop in registration rates when the first extension was announced – and then queues building up closer to the deadline. There was also anecdotal evidence that the service was slow and that getting registered sometimes meant travelling long distances. Also, some people completed stage one of the registration but hadn’t yet got around to stage two.
By July 28, 2022, the minister said, there were 42,121,921 voice SIM cards of which some 25,260,661 voice SIMs had completed stage one of the registration process and 16,861,260 were unregistered SIM cards – about 40 per cent. Approximately 16,590,350 of SIMs, or 38 per cent, had completed both stages of the registration process. The country's population is about 32 million.
There have been other problems. A self-service registration app was delayed and, the minister said, there had not been enough time for a public education exercise on its use.
Other challenges, she said, were problems with the issuing of the Ghana Card by the National Identification Authority and the delay in starting broadband wireless access SIM registration (which began about a week ago). There also seems to have been confusion about whether data-only SIMs need to be registered – which they do.
The Ghana Card-SIM registration exercise is intended to build a SIM database to curb fraudulent activities and ensure secure SIM card-based transactions. It would also, of course, help with the accurate identification of valid SIM cards.