Sim Re-registration in an election year could be a slippery slope

Source GhanaWeb

Government yesterday announced that all mobile phone users will have to re-register their SIM numbers (Subscriber Identity Module) from 1st January, 2020 to 30th June 2020 or lose the numbers.

The directive, according to government will help monitor and track down persons who use their phones for criminal activities.

However, some experts in the telecommunications industry have recommended that although the call is well-intentioned, there remains fundamental and structural issues like first ensuring Ghana has a Comprehensive ID Database in the form of a National Register to serve as verification for the re-registration of sim cards.

Without this in place, attempting re-registration will not yield any meaningful value such as tackling security related issues, digital fraud and so on.

A national register will provide a robust system for the re-registration program and will ensure that the requirements for all channels used to register and activate a SIM card are met appropriately.

“The National Identification card is the only mandatory cards citizens can have and for such issues you will expect the Government to pressure its Agency the NIA to complete the Ghana Card program so that the mobile industry can adapt the NIA database as its verification platform. The availability of a national identification database and whether the identity documentation being used can be validated against a government registry, either at the point of sale or at the point of activation, has a significant bearing on the registration solution and enhances the sanctity of the SIM being registered,” an expert explained.

Earlier this year, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications issued a statement noting that “Prior to the commencement of the SIM Registration exercise; the Industry Regulator directed the use of only the following identification documents; National Passport, Drivers’ License, Voter’s ID, National Identification Card, and National Health Insurance Scheme Card.

The problem here is only one out of the five documents is compulsory or mandatory to have, as well as evidence shows huge flaws in the creation of most of the identification documents, an example is the DVLA, whose boss stated a few years ago that close to 40 percent of the drivers’ licenses in Ghana are fake.

What does such evidence mean for the authenticity and validity of the major registration identification documents which millions of subscribers had and till date use to register their SIM numbers?’’ the statement noted.

Industry experts say that the move by government will be feasible if proper consultation is undertaken devoid of the timelines given to ensure that the Ghanaian citizen is not burdened unnecessarily with queues just because they want to avoid losing their SIM cards.

This is the second time such an exercise will take place after countless rumors since the last decade. Certainly, in an election year this needs to be implemented flawlessly to avoid any structurally and foreseeable errors.

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