The registration of SIM cards and equipment will begin on October 1, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has announced.
Addressing the media on Sunday, she explained that the Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) Registration Regulations, 2011, L.I 2006 mandates service providers to activate a SIM only after registration as directed by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Every subscriber is required to provide the name and residential or occupational address and date of birth, in the case of an individual, Certificate of Incorporation, in the case of a body corporate, or registration, in the case of a partnership or an unincorporated body of persons and an identification document.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stressed that only the National Identity Card (Ghana Card) issued to an individual shall be used for registration of SIM cards of citizens, foreign residents and foreigners staying in Ghana for more than 90 days.
“In the case of foreigners staying in Ghana for less than 90 days, a valid passport or other travel document is required,” she noted.
She further said that new subscribers will have to produce their Ghana card to acquire a new SIM card adding that for businesses to register SIMs in bulk, the operators will be required to verify the business registration documents with the Registrar General’s Department and verify the identity of the shareholder or the director for limited liability companies and public institutions respectively.
The Minister noted that even though this is not the first attempt to register SIMs, previous efforts failed because of the lack of a verifiable secure identification document.
The SIM registration, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said, is aimed at eliminating fraudulent and criminal activities, help authorities ascertain the accurate number of valid SIM cards on the networks, enable operators to build better demographics of their customer base and help them develop products and services to suit the various groupings.
It is also expected to minimise mobile money fraud and support financial inclusion across the vulnerable sectors.
Concerning the country’s burgeoning illicit market, she ascribed it to the surge of mobile gadgets, with data indicating that 40 percent of the devices are smuggled.
She claimed that the unregulated market has resulted in a thriving device black market, with smuggled mobile device sales, a high rate of device theft, and the cloning of device identifications.
Equipment registration centre
The government has also established a central equipment identity registry, according to the Minister, to combat smuggling and trade in counterfeit, stolen, and substandard mobile devices. “Technology has been developed to ensure that these devices only work when they enter the country legally,” she said.
“A Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) records all devices in the country and reduces the influx of smuggled and counterfeit mobile devices. Each operator has an Equipment Identity Registry (EIR) which is a database that contains all the IMEI numbers of the handsets of all the subscribers on a particular cellular network,” she added.
Government, she says, has initiated good digitalisation initiatives and innovations in Ghana and expanding the focus beyond access by implementing programs and plans that focus on the widespread secure adoption and usage of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). ” It is important to encourage the usage of digital applications by consumers, businesses, and public institutions and we are working to establish and maintain secured digital platforms, applications and systems in Ghana. Government believes that having a SIM database and CEIR with integrity is a key step towards enhancing our digitalisation,” she noted.
She encouraged all subscribers to begin getting their national IDs in order to have a smooth and easy registration process.
“Consumers and the general public must be empowered with knowledge and insights to help them understand the need for re-registration, the process and the requirement for registration. As partners in the industry, we invite all media houses to help achieve this objective and we count on your support. A detailed publicity exercise will be conducted on these issues in the coming days and we entreat the media to partner government to make this registration exercise a success for our collective good,” she said.