In a recent development, Ghanaians will have to re-register their SIM cards with Ghana Card, the country’s smart national ID.
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia announced this at the fifth edition of the CEO Summit, a two-day event held in Accra on Monday, May 17 and Tuesday, May 18, 2021.
A tweet released by Ghana’s Ministry of Communications stated that the re-registration process commences in June and runs till December, after which all unregistered SIMs will be blocked.
All SIM cards and SIM enabled devices would be re-registered from next month and end in December. All unregistered SIMs will be blocked- Ursula @ the CEOs summit today @amapomaa_b @MagdaleneApent1 @MBawumia @GIFECGhana @NitaGhana @UrsulaOw @GMIC_Social pic.twitter.com/JAcwhXWA8p
— Ministry of Comms (@mocghana) May 18, 2021
The re-registration doesn’t require going to any telecom outlet as the process can be carried out on mobile devices with a dedicated USSD code, as long as one has the Ghana Card.
Ghanaians who are yet to get the Ghana Card can obtain one for free by visiting any National Identification Authority (NIA) office in the country from July.
This move is part of plans to strengthen Ghana’s digital economy by creating unique IDs, adding them to the country’s database, and in the process, reducing incidences of fraudulent digital activities, which have become commonplace.
Ghana Card is issued by the NIA to residential and non-residential Ghanaian citizens and serves as a means of identification in diverse situations like property acquisition, travel pass, etc.
With a population of over 29 million people, the number of mobile subscriptions in Ghana as of 2019 was 40.93 million, according to Statista.
In recent times, cybercrime in Ghana has become more prevalent. Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, believes this is a huge step in curtailing these activities and creating a structure for accountability in the country’s digital economy.
Ghana’s latest plans can be likened to what’s happening in Nigeria currently, with mobile subscribers having to link their SIM cards to their National Identification Number (NIN).
Recall that this led to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) suspending SIM card sales and registration for four months and intensifying NIN registration.
Recent statistics show that some progress was made in this period, with over 51 million subscribers registered in four months.
However, there were downsides as telcos steadily lost subscribers and revenue. A recent Techpoint Africa article suggested that forcing people to go out to get their NIN might have caused a spike in the country’s COVID-19 cases.
One can only hope that the process is less tedious in Ghana, with the NIA looking to open more offices across the country before June. So far, over 15.5 million Ghanaians have gotten the Ghana Card.