Government says re-registering Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Cards of mobile phone users, is non-negotiable, despite the claims by telecommunication service providers that it will result in additional operational cost.

According to Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, although the exercise could bring some amount of inconvenience to the telcos, its benefits in the long term far outweigh the associated cost.

Government has ordered the mobile network firms to start the exercise of registering SIM cards afresh after alleged fraudulent activities around the scheme. The order, which government said the use of fake identity cards prompted, comes three years after the completion of the exercise.  

But the re-registration can only take place after the National Identification Authority (NIA) completes the re-registration of citizens which is yet to commence.

Speaking on the Joy FM Super Morning Show, Monday, Dr. Omane Boamah noted: "Without a proper identification system [which is what the NIA is working on to ensure that we have], and without linking the registration system to that individual who is registered is using, it is going to be almost impossible to be able to trace that person to it".

"You may raise may be, additional cost to the telecommunications company as a concern…but that is a non-negotiable thing when it comes to Ghana in terms of authentic registration of our SIM cards," he told Show host, Kojo Yankson.

Prank calls

Dr. Omane Boamah said an effective ID system could go a long way to deal with ceaseless prank calls made to the security services by certain individuals. 

"The fact of the matter is that in Ghana, in the year 2013, Two million, Three hundred and Forty Thousand (2,340,000) prank calls were made to the Ghana Police Service and the Ghana National Fire Service.

"Assuming you have the best of national identification systems, if that SIM Card was procured without identification, how are you going to trace that SIM Card to a particular individual," he asked.

Meanwhile, the Minister has appealed for public support for the new national identification exercise to enable the country have an efficient data system to aid effective planing. He said the new system will enable ID Cards to be produced instantly unlike the previous system where after years of registration, majority of citizens have yet to procure their Ghana Cards.

"The difference with this kind of registration is that we are working towards a system that will ensure that as soon as you register, your ID Card is given to you. So that you do not have to go back and come after …to try and trace your ID Card as we have had it in the past", he assured.