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Kokosakyi: Confessing my SIM sins

Of the several sins, failings and weaknesses that I readily admit to, albeit without a shred of smugness or a hint of flag-waving triumphalism, procrastination ranks pretty high on the league table and has done so for quite a few decades.

The others on the league table shall remain nameless for now. Some things must remain under wraps, non? Thankfully, procrastination does not make it to the prime list of the seven deadly sins, if it is of some comfort, but still a sin is a sin, I know.

From purchasing flight tickets late and getting raw deals in the process to submitting assignments and applications close to deadlines, among others, my list of examples of flying close to the edge abound.

Our elders talk of the proverbial kokosakyi (vulture) who swears when the dark clouds pregnant with rain do gather, that it must build its home.

As soon as the clouds pass and the sun starts peeking out, it abandons its oath and flies away into blissful nothingness, until the onset of the dark clouds yet again. I have tried several times to repent and it is an ongoing exercise, so help me God.

There, you have the public confession of a struggling Catholic.

My troubles

And so it came to pass that I sang and danced ‘borborbor’ around the idea of linking my MTN sim card with my Ghana Card (which I acquired rather late and had to pay a premium for) and then pushed it to the recesses of my busy mind until I realised I had a week or so to go.

Now if there is one thing I hate with a passion, it is a long queue, especially where customers are seated and have to keep shuffling at a snail’s pace in order to progress in the queue, unless my life literally depends on it and I have time to spare. Food queues in particular irk me. I avoid them like a plague.

The sight of the massive queues, mainly populated by procrastinators like me, as I shopped around for a convenient centre in the capital to register simply depressed me, and after a number of attempts I gave up and like a lamb en route for the slaughterhouse, I resigned myself to ‘Que sera sera’ (what will be will be) as the deadline for the registration loomed.

The thought of being cut off from the rest of humanity was akin to losing a limb and filled me with dread, but then, I had no one to blame. So it was with great trepidation flavoured with a sliver of hope that I parked myself in front of my television set last Sunday to listen to what the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, had to say on the matter.
Would she grant a stay of execution? Or would she, with the sternness of a Catholic nun running a convent, bring the hammer down and render my mobile phone device useless come midnight? Eventually, the reprieve came through, albeit ‘reluctantly’, she said. Phew! Sigh of relief.

Issues

I think in the wider conversation about the whole brouhaha of SIM card registration and the Ghana card issued by the National Identification

Authority (NIA), there are two broad groups of citizens that need to be identified and unbundled. First is those who, through no fault of theirs and certainly not for want of trying, have not been issued with their Ghana card due to whatever systemic issues that the NIA is facing, with 15.7 million cards issued so far.

I suppose that does not include the 808,493 that the NIA says are ready but have not been issued for various reasons.

Then there is the group of persons who have actually obtained the cards but have not quite hauled themselves to the nearest service provider office to activate the linking.

These, I suppose, are my kith and kin, in the wider sense. Apparently a subset of this group comprises MTN loan defaulters who pray fervently for their lines to be disconnected so they are absolved of their obligation and, therefore, believe they have no motivation to register, even though they have their Ghana cards.

They must have been shattered by the extension. Others were apparently not aware they had to register their data-only SIMs, even though they have already registered their voice SIMs.

I have every reason to believe the minister’s agreement to extend her deadline was influenced more by the significant number of those who through no fault of theirs had not been able to secure their Ghana cards from the NIA. That is a proper consideration.

Last-minute culture

I was rather amused by the minister’s revelation during her press briefing that as soon as the original deadline in March this year was extended to July 31, 2022, the massive queues at the various centres almost immediately slumped by as much as 90 per cent.

I would not be surprised if many people in those queues just went to sleep and turned up as July 31 loomed. Chances are some may go back to bed and turn up in the final, frantic week to the new deadline of September 30, 2022.

I think this speaks to a wider issue beyond the matter of SIM registration as part of our national culture and mindset.
Voter registration and exhibition exercises tend to register a slow curve in the initial weeks, jumping up sharply once the deadline looms.

From my experience in the education sector, many parents of BECE candidates only take their children’s/wards’ school choice process seriously as deadlines loom. Many other examples abound.

Reducing queues

It is all well and good that an app is going to be available to aid in the registration process. The exercise cannot and must not be all about queues, when many lead rather busy lives.

I dare say that had the telcos opened premium centres at specified locations where one had to pay a fee to receive an express service, the inevitably shorter queues there would have been an attraction for some to go register there.

The UK Visa Application Centre, and I believe the Passport Office, among others, offer premium services which provide convenience for the customer and keeps the cash register ringing.

Chastised

I do hope the NIA will be able to resolve the several challenges many citizens are going through to obtain their cards and, thus, avoid placing the ministry in the difficult position of having to consider extending the September 30 deadline and appearing ridiculous.

It should be the case by the deadline that those who have not registered are those who simply have not bothered and have no excuse.

I would in that case be an ardent champion of maintaining the deadline.

I know come rain or shine, I will probably be one of the early birds (not the kokosakyi variety) to take advantage of the new app from the coziness of my bed after it is outdoored, a glass of excellent South African Sauvignon Blanc wine by my side to lubricate the process.

I will keep you posted.

Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng. E-mail: rodboat@yahoo.com

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