In Ghana, some call for a boycott of phone calls

As Ghana launched a plan to better identify phone users to combat fraud, registering the SIM card to keep using it may take hours.

Sim cards
In Ghana, millions of people need to register their SIM cards again if they want to keep using their mobile phones | Illustration © PublicDomainPictures

In Ghana, people need to register their SIM card again if they want to keep using their mobile phones. The government initiated the SIM Card Registration exercise, which began last October for a period of six months, to combat fraud.

But Ghanaians have been waiting for long hours outside of mobile network service centers to register their SIM cards again, growing frustration among some of them.

On January 13, a small group of 14 Ghanaians, including a former member of parliament, raised their voice to boycott mobile phone networks during a “No Calls Day” in February.

We call on all Ghanaians not to make or receive phone calls as a way of registering our disquiet about the circus surrounding the SIM card re-registration exercise“, they said in a statement. They ask for an innovative way of re-registering the SIM cards without the “current inhumane registration process“.

Phone number removed from networks if the SIM card is not re-registered

To combat fraudulent activities, the National Communication Authority had laid out a double-verification process that requires users to provide a national identity card, also called Ghana Card.

To register a SIM, Ghanaians need to send personal information to a dedicated number and then go register their ID card and biometric information to the shop of their service provider. And the process does not only apply to new SIM cards but to all the current SIMs as well.

SIMs that have not been registered will be removed from the networks and users won’t be able to use their mobile phones for calls or financial transactions anymore.

The government conducted a previous registration exercise in 2010-2011 but “there are records of fake ID numbers as well as fictitious names for existing SIM registration databases“. In the current system, IDs were unverifiable and people could register their SIM cards using other people’s IDs with no way to check them, National Communication Authority director Nana Defie Badu explained.

Mobile money fraud

With this re-registration, Ghana hopes to build a SIM database that would identify owners and curb fraudulent and criminal activities such as mobile money fraud.

Mobile money was introduced in Ghana in 2009 and became wildly popular. But so as scams and fraud.

An electronic wallet allows users to store, send, and receive money using their mobile phones. The system has increased financial inclusivity in Ghana as the creation of a bank account, recurrent payment of bills or management of savings have become easier.

But while individual subscribers can own up to 10 SIM cards across all networks, not all Ghanaians have a national identity card to buy SIM cards.

Authorities launched a plan in 2019 to increase the number of modern ID cards. But as of June 2021, 16 million of the 31 million Ghanaians were registered for a new “Ghana Card” by the National Identification Authority.

The deadline for registering the SIM cards is March 31 but it may be extended.

Read more about Ghana

Ras Mubarak, Facebook, January 2022, Free accessFrequently Asked Questions for SIM Registration 2021, National Communications Authority, Free accessPress briefing on the National Identification System project, National Identification Authority, June 2021, Free access

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