A group of Ghanaians have scheduled 8 February 2022 to boycott phone calls in protest of the ongoing SIM card registration requested by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
On this day, dubbed ‘No Calls Day’, they want all Ghanaians across the country to avoid making or receiving phone calls as a way of registering their displeasure against the re-registration exercise.
The group of 14 Concerned Mobile Network Subscribers, including former MP for Kumbungu, Ras Mubarak, believe it is unlawful for the regulatory authority to compel Ghanaians to embark on the registration exercise.
“Any attempt to impose this on subscribers or block their lines would amount to an infringement of their property rights,” they noted in a statement, dated 13 January 2022.
The group members include Prof. Raymond Atuguba, Kofi Bentsil, Franklin Cudjoe, Kofi Kakraba Pratt, Dr Kwesi Owusu, James Afedo, Selorm Branttie, Francis Kofi Korankye-Sakyi, Samson Lardy Anyenini, Manasseh Azure Awuni, Akyaaba Addai – Sebo, Kwame Mfodwo and Michael Ofori – Akuffo.
Even though the group acknowledged the need to fight crime, hence the decision to compile a database of the owners of every SIM card, they want the government to proceed within a legal framework.
“…the fight against criminals must be within the law. We, therefore, demand that the NCA and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) must come up with a better and innovative way of re-registering the SIM cards by first amending existing law; and secondly, to do so without the current inhumane re-registration process, we are witnessing”.
They hold the view that a law to govern the process will enable the registration process to be carried out “without having subscribers spend productive hours and several days in long queues in the midst of a ravaging Covid-19 pandemic”.
Consequently, they want the NCA to immediately withdraw its directive for mobile network customers to re-register their SIM cards by 31 March 2022.
“If the NCA and the MNOs fail to heed these demands, we shall, starting Tuesday, 8 February 2022 begin the first of a series of planned boycotts until the rights of customers to be treated with dignity are respected,” the release added.
Customers are faced with long queues at various registration centres amidst overcrowding in the wake of another surge in COVID-19 cases caused by the Omicron variant.
Several Ghanaians have taken to social media to register their displeasure about the process.
They also appealed to the government to extend the registration deadline to complete the process.
In response, the NCA said it was creating additional registration centres to serve many customers.
The NCA said, “outlets such as distributor shops, retail centres and other agent touchpoints across the country are being used for the SIM registration exercise.”
As part of the measures to resolve the challenges, the NCA said the deployment of various “ad-hoc” registration points” at various public areas, including lorry parks, churches, mosques to ease the congestion at the customer care centres would be utilised.
“Announcements would be made in communities wherever such ad-hoc registration points are established,” it added.
One of the measures being undertaken, the statement noted, would be the development and implementation of a daily quota and ticketing system for SIM registration bio capture at the customer care centres.
“MNOs will develop systems to schedule customers who have completed the first phase to visit particular centres by a given date or window for the second phase of the registration,” the NCA announced.
The regulator also encouraged the public to be patient as those measures were rapidly being implemented, and further advised customers to “complete stage one of the registration processes, i.e., linking the Ghana Card with the SIM card by dialling #404* before visiting the MNO Customer Care Centre or agent.