The National Communications Authority (NCA) has warned telecom companies operating in the country to desist, forthwith, from activating new subscriber identification modules (SIM) cards without registration.

It says the Authority’s attention has been drawn to the fact some of the telecom companies are activating the SIM cards for the public without first registering them and noted that the practice is a clear violation of the law.

Speaking to the Daily Graphic in an interview in Accra, the Deputy Director of Consumer and Public Affairs at the NCA, Mr Mawuko Zormelo, said “the law is explicit on that and we will apply sanctions where necessary to stop the practice.”

He said “there is a Legislative Instrument (LI) that ensures that every SIM card should be registered before it is activated” and wondered why some of the telecom companies would flout a law they were very much aware of.

Subscribers per the law are expected to register their SIM cards, using one of the nationally recognised identification cards: driver’s licence, passport, voter identification or the National Health Insurance cards.

The NCA explained that the aim of undertaking the SIM registration exercise, among other things, was to empower subscribers as bona fide owners of their telephone numbers and in turn strengthen them to demand better services.

The registration exercise is also aimed at increasing subscribers’ power of choice in a more competitive market and helping subscribers improve their chances of seeking replacement of their SIM cards in the event of loss.

It also explained that one of the reasons for the registration exercise was to pave way for the introduction of Mobile Number Portability (MNP), which has since been launched with a good degree of success.

On March 3, 2012, all telecom operators in Ghana were legally mandated by the SIM Registration Regulation, LI 2006, to deactivate all unregistered SIMs in the country, or they (the operators) would be penalised.

That meant that all SIM cards in mobile phones, modems, tablets and any other devices, which were not registered or not properly registered, were to be deactivated and they would stop functioning instantly.

The move was in line with the licensing requirement of all the telecom operators as provided in the Electronic Communication Act, Act 775, 2008, which mandates all telecom operators to keep the data of their subscribers. One does not need to know the law to know about SIM registration, because it has been a topical issue in Ghana for more than a year now, since it started.

It has become obvious that the telecom companies might be flouting the LI because of the stiff competition within the sector.

There are also serious issues about the verification of the IDs presented by the potential subscribers to the telecom companies.

Since the process takes many days, it is likely that the telecom companies are avoiding the situation where they hold new subscribers unduly.

Mr Zormelo noted that once it was law, there should be no comprises, repeating his call on telecom companies doing so to desist from the practice forthwith.