MTN Ghana today blamed the slow SIM registration process causing long queues at their service centers on the slowness of the App designed by Kelni GVG, which the National Communications Authority (NCA) has mandated all telcos to use for the collection of bio data during registration.
Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs at MTN Ghana, Samuel Bartels told journalists at a virtual forum that the long queues of customers seeking to register their SIM cards at MTN service centers is mainly because the mandatory app for the process is slow, particularly for the collection of bio data.
Ghanaians have up to March 31, 2022 to link their Ghana Cards to their SIM cards or the latter will be deactivated. Since the process started in October, 2021, there have been long queues of people trying to beat the deadline.
One major source of complaint among Ghanaians has been why the telcos are collecting bio data after the National Identification Authority (NIA) has collected more than enough bio data and stored it on the Ghana Card being used for the registration.
The complaint stems from the fact that the collection of bio data by the telcos in particular is what is delaying the whole process and threatening to make lots of Ghanaian fail to meet the March 31 deadline.
There have also been concerns about why the bio data of Ghanaians, which are already with the NIA, are also being collected with an app designed by a private entity like Kelni GVG.
But Samuel Bartels said MTN and other telcos are only complying with the directives of the regulator, NCA, who insists that bio data should be collected again using the app developed by Kelni GVG.
According to him, the App is supposed to complete a single process under five minutes, but predominantly, it take 15 minutes or more to complete one registration and that is what is delaying the process and causing the long queues.
”We give regular feedback to the regulator on these challenges and we have documented all the feedback but we cannot do anything outside of their directive,” he said.
”It is important for the public to know that the bio data we are collecting is not sitting with us. It is for the state. We are only doing what we have been directed to do,” he added.
According to him, the other limitation of the app is that, it is compatible with very few handheld devices so MTN and other telcos are unable to recruit all of their agents across the country to help with the exercise because the app is not compliant with many of the devices being used by a lot of their agents.
”During the previous SIM registration our agents were able to help because the process did not involve any such app but this time we could acquire a limited number of compliant devices for some agents but not all,” he said.
Samuel Bartels however noted that in spite of the obvious challenges, MTN continues to adopt several strategies including visiting institutions upon request and visiting markets and other places on special days to register people as a way of expediting the process.
According to him, MTN is managing to run at least 200 registration points across the country to curb the long queues and they are trusting that the regulator will fix the challenges with the App to enable them do even more.
Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication, Dr. Kenneth Ashigbey also noted that telcos made all the necessary input regarding how to make the process work better, but the final decision still rests with NCA and the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization.
With regards to the collection of bio data by the telcos, he explained that the link between the NCA and NIA does not seem to have been established yet and that is why NCA is using a Kelni GVG app to collect the same bio data that NIA has already collected.
Meanwhile, there are concerns that the NCA has employed Kelni GVG to collect the bio data of Ghanaians for something more than just SIM registration, otherwise, they should and employed one of the young startups to help open NIA’s API for them to access the bio data for the SIM registration.