Ghana telcos trying to facilitate biometric SIM registrations as diverse concerns grow
The ongoing process in Ghana for phone users to re-register their SIM cards using biometrics has continued to resuscitate concerns not only about the deadline for the process which is fast approaching, but also about delays in the issuance of the Ghana Card which is the sole ID document needed to get through the exercise.
Other related worries have to do with the government’s decision to make the biometric ID card the unique ID document acceptable for some public services as of approaching announced dates.
As complaints of long queues by citizens struggling to get their biometrics captured for the re-registration continue, mobile telephone operators such as AirtelTigo Ghana and MTN Ghana have announced a number of measures aimed at easing the stress suffered by users in the past couple of months, according to local media reports.
The biometric SIM re-registration started in October last year and the government has set a March 31, 2022 deadline for it, after which it has threatened that unregistered SIM cards will be blocked.
The Africa Report in an article (subscription required) echoes a litany of worries expressed regarding the number of Ghanaians who have been unable to obtain the Ghana Card despite having applied for it, hence their inability to proceed with the SIM re-registration.
While it mentions a ‘no calls’ day protest by Ghanaians observed on February 8 against the SIM re-registration, the report also cites officials arguing against the imminent requirement for the Ghana Card as the only acceptable ID for particularly use cases.
In this light, The Africa Report mentions the move by the Ghana Revenue Authority to have the tax payer number aligned to the Ghana Card PIN by March 31, and the Bank of Ghana’s decision to make the Ghana Card the only acceptable ID document for all banking and financial transactions by July 1.
Another report by Quartz Africa also highlights the concerns by Ghanaians over plans to link the Ghana Card to major financial transactions. Some of the fears evoked have to do with data privacy and the commercialization of data.
Ghanaian authorities have resolved in the past to take steps aimed to handle the re-registration problems, but complaints have been recurrent.
Against the backdrop of these complaints, MTN Ghana recently announced a number of steps to help reduce the queues at biometric registration centres, according to Business Ghana.
Per the report, the telco has increased the number of its registration centers up from 4,000; the number of devices used for biometric capture up from the initial 5,000 as well as the deployment of registration teams to some public institutions with large staff numbers in order to register them on the spot.
Speaking on the development, chief sales and distribution officer at MTN Ghana Shaibu Haruna, said: “we are constantly exploring avenues to improve the experience of our customers and ensure that every customer, regardless of their location, may access an agent nearby to complete their registration. We have put in several interventions including committing more resources and finding innovative ways of reaching more people.”