Ghana Card and SIM card for registration

There is a practice in most low and average income households that ensures that previously cooked soups and stews are revitalized or refreshed for consumption with relish when the need arises.

All it takes is the addition of blended onions and or other ingredients to restore the dish to its former status or even better. There is also the opportunity to mix the left overs of different soups or stews to result in a new creation- ‘Ab3- nkatie-konto’ and left over gravy used for jollof rice on my mind.

You would have noticed that I usually come out with this column on Mondays. The publication days change occasionally, depending on the exigencies of the time. One of such occasions is here.

Today marks the deadline for SIM re-registration as “reluctantly” extended by the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.

Between the publication of my last article on the SIM re-registration exercise titled, “SIM re-registration exercise- Is Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful Saint or Demon?, a lot of water has passed under the bridge.

For instance, the Executive Director of the National Identification Authority (NIA), Prof. Ken Attafuah, at a press briefing on Friday, September 16, 2022, stressed that it is impossible to register a backlog of 2 million eligible applicants before the deadline for the SIM re-registration.

He explained that the fiscal and logistical systems of the Authority have not been designed for that.

“We have the mandate to register all Ghanaians in Ghana and all Ghanaians abroad. There is no way NIA can register all Ghanaians in Ghana. If you look at our performance record, as stellar as we believe our performance is, the reality is that there are approximately two million people aged 15 and above who have not registered for the Ghana Card,” he noted.

This development has thus strengthened my belief that, as my Hausa cousins would say, ‘doley-doley’ the deadline will be extended.

It is for this reason that I have rehashed the above-referenced article like we do to ‘old’ soups and stews, for your reading pleasure. As is the case with the rejuvenated cuisines, the taste is never the same. It is either worse or better than the original. My prayer is that you enjoy, however it turns out. Here we go:

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful is making this SIM re-registration exercise her Achilles’ heel. That’s because it has ensured that no one is paying attention to whatever achievements the Ministry of Communication and Digitalisation has chalked under her stewardship.

This notwithstanding, she has been unyielding in her resolve to block SIM cards from mid-night of September, 30, 2022.

Everyone- from the ordinary Joe through technology specialists to her colleague legislators are pointing to the imprudence of instituting deadlines for the SIM re-registration exercise, yet Ursula won’t budge.

All she could write was, “to be forewarned is to be forearmed” on Facebook. This is sheer sadism. Yes, “the tendency to derive pleasure, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others.”

Otherwise, why would anybody tell mobile telephony subscribers, who are trying all they can under scorching sun and chilly rainy weather that, “…the full scope of sanctions will be revealed. If you suffer that fate as a result of your own inaction, kindly do not blame your service provider. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.”

Inaction? Evidently, Ursula is unaware of the increased number of registrants at both SIM re-registration and Ghana Card registration centres, virtually falling over each other to either get the Ghana Card or re-register their SIM cards.

Why are we re-registering our SIMs?

In my quest to understand the unwavering stance of Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, I visited the website of the NCA. Some of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) posted there are as follows:

a. ID Verification –There are records of fake ID numbers as well as fictitious names for existing SIM registration databases. The integrity of existing SIM registration databases was compromised by the non-verification of the identities used for registration.

b. Pre-registered SIM cards – There is also the issue of non-verification of IDs which allowed some SIM card vendors to register SIMs before selling them. Consequently, the SIM was already activated before it was sold to the eventual user. This defeated the primary objective of the SIM registration exercise.

c. Non-enforcement of the provisions of the law – Since sometime in 2013, the NCA relaxed the enforcement of the SIM Registration Regulations due to a plan to register all SIM users following the issuance of a National Identification Card. Regulation 7(1) (l) of the National Identity Register Regulations, 2012 – L.I. 2111 (20th Feb, 2012) made the National ID card the mandatory identification document for registration of SIM cards.

The plan at the time was to conduct a national SIM re-registration exercise when the national ID registration exercise is COMPLETED. The national ID project which delayed, created a long lull in enforcement of the SIM registration regulations resulting in several improperly registered SIMs being activated on the networks of the MNOs.

Obviously, the national ID registration exercise has not been completed. Prof. Attafuah has made it clear that they cannot complete the exercise by close of today, September 30, 2022. The logical conclusion is an extension. What even prevents us from deciding that as and when one gets the Ghana Card, he or she could register the SIM card?

And there is what I consider a brilliant suggestion. That is, although the cards are not ready, the NIA has been able to generate the Identification Numbers for some applicants. This number could therefore be accepted in lieu of the printed card for re-registration of the SIM card.

My septuagenarian mother-in-law is one of those who has this number. She has been asked to come back in three months to check if the card has been printed. We have the number, which invariably will be used when it is printed on a card. So what is the hindrance?

The justification for an extension of deadline

It is a matter of hours and today will be over. Before the sun sets, if the deadline for the SIM re-registration exercise is not extended, then my name is not Eric Mensah-Ayettey.

I say so with this level of certainty because the Director of Research and Strategy at Imani Ghana, Selorm Branttie and Hon. Sam Dzata George, while speaking on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show on September 13, 2022 convinced me beyond reasonable doubt. Hear them:

“We serve notice that if she continues along this tangent, and refuses to listen to Parliament… and she wants to run down that path, we can assure her that this will be the first time Parliament will pass an appropriation bill without an appropriation for a Ministry- the Ministry of Communication.

We will block that budget. That budget will not be approved. Because the budget is a tax payers’ money, you cannot be punishing the tax payers and expect to enjoy their largesse,” Mr. Sam George assured.

Mr. Selorm Branttie looked at the bigger picture, “Per how they have run this whole enterprise so far, it is not going to be possible that by September 30 we would have every Ghanaian who has a SIM card complying with this re-registration module. I am very curious to see what will happen after September 30. And I double dare the Minister to go by her own words and see the kind of chaos that will happen in this country.

I am saying chaos because you are talking about flirting with the fortunes of the service sector which contributes more than 45% of our GDP. You are talking about flirting and toying, making a petri-dish of the whole digitization agenda which is being run by the Vice President himself and by so many different organisations. You are talking about flirting with our SDGS. You are talking about blocking digital access. You are talking about creating a digital apartheid where people are being made to pay for another organisation not fulfilling their obligation…when she has been the mother of all this chaos.”

Sam George again, “A deadline in itself will not fix the problem. Deadlines will not produce the Ghana cards. The National Security is minded by this. You see she tried to block SIM cards two days in the last week. The NCA, they issued a public statement, but when they were rescinding the decision to the Telco’s they did it ‘nicodemusly’- in the quiet of the night. And now they are saying they are no longer blocking this week. I join Selorm to dare the Minister to block the SIM cards on 30th September.

If we have a national security apparatus in this country, they won’t allow that to happen. I can state on authority again, that the actions of the Minister do not just have implications for the service sector. It has implications for Ghana’s own conversations with the IMF as we speak. Because our internal revenue generations, the scenarios have been built and sent to the IMF that this is how much government rakes internally.

If you block SIM cards of about 3 million Ghanaians, you are talking of about 10 million SIM cards. Those SIM cards when they are used for phone calls generate Communication Service Tax (CST) revenue, when they are used for data, generate CST revenue. Those who do mobile money generate e-levy. All of those figures are going to drop. As we speak, the Minister of Communication has not engaged with the Ministry of Finance to look at what will be on the IMF conversation.

That’s why I am saying that the fact that we have a national security… unless they are asleep. They cannot sit back and allow the Minister. What she is doing is digital apartheid. And this is xenophobic in the digital space. The powers that she thinks she has, are regulated by Article 296.”

It’s time to go

I hereby prophesy that before the sun goes down, a statement akin to this, “I, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, have once again reluctantly decided to grant an unconditional extension of the SIM re-registration exercise in the interest of national security and in order not to frustrate our negotiation with the IMF for a bailout.”

As for pie, we cannot re-bake it. So we will microwave it and serve it humbly to Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.

This is the day the Lord has made and we shall rejoice in it. Halleluiah!!!

Shalom means Peace in Hebrew. It also means goodbye.

Let God Lead! Follow Him directly, not through any human.

The writer works at Myjoyonline.com. He is also the author of two books whose contents share knowledge on how anyone desirous of writing like him can do so. Eric can be reached via email eric.mensah-ayettey@myjoyonline.comThe two books cost GHC80.00.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.