The ongoing SIM re-registration exercise will soon be rolled out to the agents of the telecom operators across the country to fast-track the process, Techgh24 can confirm.
Reliable sources at the National Communications Authority (NCA) have been telling Techgh24 that the over 330,000 telecoms agents will be brought onboard the exercise to avoid overcrowding at the customer services offices of the various telcos.
The source said the decision was also to make it easier for the aged and the physical challenged persons to have easy access to registration points close to them, rather than traveling all the way to the customers service centers of the telcos.
Currently, only the customer service centers of the telcos are doing the registration, but not many people are able to get their SIMs registered in a day due to the long queues. Meanwhile, at least one telco is facing challenges with the process and have had to put customers on hold for weeks.
The regulator and the implementing telcos have therefore taken a decision to involve telco agents to facilitate the process and get a lot more SIMs registered by the close of the six month exercise period.
The source said currently the agents are being trained for the purpose.
SIM re-registration, using strictly the Ghana Card, started October 1, 2021 and isbdue to run till March 31, 2022, when all existing SIMs would be expected to have been registered and linked to the Ghana Card.
The process starts with each SIM holder dialing *404# and then following the prompts to link their SIM to their Ghana Card. After that, one would have to visit their service provider for their biometrics to be taken to complete the process.
Per the schedule, any SIM that is not linked to and registered with the Ghana Card by March 31, 2022 will be deactivated.
The intent is to link all SIM cards/phone numbers to verifiable street addresses, TIN numbers and other details of SIM holders, with the view to weeding out all badly registered SIMs being used to commit various forms of crime like SIMBox fraud and mobile money fraud among others.
Currently, SIM cards are registered with various national ID systems, which are not immediately verifiable. As a result, some telco agents pre-register SIM cards in the names of unknown persons and sell these cards to customers at premium rate.
Some of those badly registered SIMs also end up in the hands of fraudsters, and it is difficult to trace such fraudsters after they have used the card for their criminal activities.
The Ghana Card therefore consolidates all other national IDs like passport, drivers license, voters ID, SSNIT Card, National Health Insurance card and even Tax Identification Number, plus the digital address of the card holder. This is expected to make SIM card holders easily traceable.
It has taken several years for Ghana to get to this point. But some Ghanaians still criticise the process as a no fix for mobile money and SIM box fraud.
They argue that to the extent that digital addresses for instance, are not easily verifiable, it is still difficult to confirm if indeed the addresses provided by each person was actually the address they reside at.
Some also believe the exercise is government’s way of wanting to keep a tab on citizens and easily monitor their movements and activities for whatever purpose. In short, they call it “creepy”.
But a watcher of the Nigerian telecoms sector, told Techgh24 that, per the Nigerian example, it is only criminals, fraudsters and corrupt elite who are opposed to the SIM re-registration exercise because it will make it difficult for them to use pseudonyms to hide ill-gotten wealth.