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Accept Passport, Drivers License, Others For SIM Card Re-registration – Minority To Govt

The Minority in parliament has described the ultimatum six-month re-registration of SIM cards, a retrospective application of legislation and a tunnel-visioned approach to sanitizing the industry.

According to the minority caucus, they strongly oppose any abuse of policy to unnecessarily inconvenience the citizens of Ghana, therefore, finds it most inappropriate that the policy directive issues a fiat of deactivating SIM cards that are not linked to the Ghana Card within the next six months. 

In a statement on Tuesday, deputy ranking member for the communications committee Sam George argued the way and manner the exercise is being rolled out could be counterproductive, asking for the inclusion of other ID cards for the registration.

The Ningo-Prampram MP disclosed the minority caucus is in consultation with lawyers for legal action against the government over the exercise.

The minority has recommended “the immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of valid SIM cards by March 2022, the scrapping of the physical visit to an agent of a service provider for authentication of the registration document.”

Other recommendations are “an integrated referencing of databases of the Passport Office, DVLA, NHIA and SSNIT with the NIA database whose cards were used largely as primary

registration documents for previous SIM registrations.”

“The use of Passports, Driver’s License and Voter’s ID cards to allow for the

inclusion of more Ghanaians in the registration process.”

Below is a statement by the Minority on SIM card registration

We as the Minority in Parliament have followed the policy directive issued by the

Honourable Minister for Communications and Digitalization on the registration of all SIM cards in the Country which started on the 1st of October 2021 and would last for six months.

This registration process is to be done in two phases including the linking of a

Ghana Card to a SIM card and the physical visit to an agent of a service provider by a SIM

cardholder for an integration process to be completed.

In as much as we support any attempts to sanitize the digital ecosystem, we strongly

oppose any abuse of policy to unnecessarily inconvenience the citizens of Ghana. We find

it most inappropriate that the policy directive issues a fiat of deactivating SIM cards that

are not linked to the Ghana Card within the next six months. This we believe is a

retrospective application of legislation and a tunnel-visioned approach to sanitizing the

industry.

The current legislation that backs SIM registration in Ghana is the LI 2006 passed by

Parliament in 2011. This legislation saw the registration that happened in 2012. This

legislative instrument does not mandate the linkage of the Ghana Card to activate SIM

cards.

The National Identification Authority Act, 2006 (Act 707) and LI 2111 which

introduces the use of the Ghana Card as the principal document for registration of SIM

cards and Bank Accounts amongst others cannot be applied retrospectively to SIM cards

that were registered legally and legitimately under the existing Ll 2006. Section 7 of LI

2111 makes the use of the Ghana Card mandatory but does NOT make it the sole card for

the purposes of registration.

It is imperative that we state that any attempt to stretch the mandate of El 63 to justify

this latest directive on SIM cards as grossly misplaced. Section 100 of the Electronic

Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) which forms the basis for El 63 imposes a liability

on the Service Providers to furnish the President with details of registered devices.

This duty does not extend to the customers of the Service Providers. It is in our considered

opinion that this attempt to compel and threaten Ghanaians with deactivating their SIM

cards come March 2022 is an unfortunate affront to the rights of Ghanaians.

To break this down, this new directive is akin to the Bank of Ghana issuing a fiat that bank

accounts would be closed if account holders do not link their accounts to the Ghana Card

After all, the NIA act also mandates that Bank Accounts need to be backed by Ghana Cards.

Another inconceivable scenario would be the Passports Office issuing a statement that all

passports must be revalidated because a few holders may have falsified the birth

certificates or other primary documents used to acquire their passports. This is how

ludicrous it sounds that to deal with some instances of fraudulently acquired SIM cards

by unscrupulous persons would demand that all SIM cardholders must go back to

register their SIM cards. This is simply not a pragmatic approach.

The claim that linking a SIM card to the Ghana Card would prevent fraud is flawed. The

Ghana Card database is full of largely unverified GhanaPost GPS addresses which were

hastily generated at NIA registration centres and not linked to the physical addresses of

the registrants. It is important to note that residential mobility is high among the majority

of Ghanaians and as such addresses in the NIA database cannot be the basis for an

anticipated fight against SIM based digital crime.

Our recommendations on the SIM registration exercise are;

1. The immediate withdrawal of the threat of deactivation of valid SIM cards by

March 2022

2. The scrapping of the physical visit to an agent of a service provider for

authentication of the registration document

3. An integrated referencing of databases of the Passport Office, DVLA, NHIA and

SNIT with the NIA database whose cards were used largely as primary

registration documents for previous SIM registrations.

4. The use of Passports, Driver’s License and Voter’s ID cards to allow for the

inclusion of more Ghanaians in the registration process.

We urge the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization to take these steps in good

faith. We believe this would actually accelerate our digital ecosystem in this age of COVID-

19.

We have also spoken to our lawyers to advise us on all legal options open to us on this

matter.

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