A former Deputy Minister for Communication, George Andah has said that SIM card re-registration originally scheduled for January to June 2020 was delayed because there was a need for an updated National ID database to make it successful.
According to him, the National ID database collected by the National Identification Authority during the registration for Ghana Card, provides exactly what is needed for a successful SIM Card re-registration.
He was speaking on Citi TV.
SIM re-registration would make it possible to trace fraudsters who use their mobile phones to defraud others and the state.
Currently, lots of SIM cards are registered in fake names because there is no proper ID verification system in the country. Several SIM cards are registered in the names of some people, but other people use the SIM cards.
SIM card vendors even do business with selling already registered SIM cards to people at a higher cost, and when those people use the SIM to commit fraud, it become difficult tracing them.
Several of those SIM cards are also particularly used for SIM Box fraud, otherwise known as call bypass, where fraudsters load SIM boxes with several badly registered SIM cards to terminate incoming international calls and make them look like local calls. By so doing, the defraud the telcos of international call revenue and the state of taxes.
The telcos have been in the past been blamed for activating badly registered SIM just to shore up their subscriber base. But they have argued that they could not prevented the activation of SIM cards registered with the valid ID cards provided by the state.
Ghana has done SIM registration before, using five national ID regimes like drivers license, voters ID, passports, National Health Insurance card and the previous Ghana Card, but none of that could be effectively verified because several details were lacking in all of those databases.
George Andah therefore explains that for the National SIM re-registration to be successfully, an updated subscriber database, which will be derived from the National Identification database was necessary.
“We’ve all heard of people that have experienced the situation where somebody has stolen their SIM card or someone has asked them to send money to them and when you go and check the registration details of the person, you can’t go anywhere. So for SIM registration to be effective, you need to have a proper ID database so that every subscriber can be identified; who they are, where they stay, what they do,” he said.
The National Identification Authority (NIA) ended a mop-up registration of the National Identification Card (Ghana Card) throughout the country in September 2020 after registering 15,549,242 persons.
George Andah said the timing is now right to go ahead with the SIM re-registration exercise, as all the necessary requirements are in place.
“It makes sense to make sure that your national ID registration or card issuance process is properly done, and you have one national ID, either a passport or a driver’s license or a national ID card that the customer details have been verified and validated, and that is what is used to support the registration of SIM cards. And I think that is the direction that the ministry is heading,” he added.