26M SIMs still unidentified in Ghana as biometric registration deadline extended again
Ghanaians have been given up to September 30, 2022, to re-register their SIM cards with biometrics or have them indefinitely suspended, as figures from the National Communication Authority (NCA) show slightly over 26 million active SIM cards in the country are yet to be linked to the Ghana Card.
This number of unregistered SIM cards is said to represent about 62 percent of all active voice SIM cards in the country.
According to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), the deadline extension was announced on July 31 by the Minister of Communications and Digitization Ursula Owusu-Ekuful who said on the occasion that about 16 million SIM cards for voice and data services were already fully identified.
The campaign to have mobile phone users in Ghana re-register their SIM cards using the Ghana Card was launched in October last year, and was due to end on March 31, 2022. On the verge of this deadline, there was an extension to July 31 as a large majority of SIM cards were yet to be registered.
At the time the July 31 deadline elapsed, millions of Ghanaians were yet to have their SIM cards re-registered as many of them complained they lack the Ghana Card, which is the principal document for the re-registration exercise.
There have also been complaints about people standing on long queues to submit their biometrics at registration centers.
Speaking as she announced the latest deadline extension to September 30, the Communication Minister said she was “reluctantly” doing so after consultation with relevant stakeholders and that an evaluation will be done at the end of this month to determine the level of progress, GNA notes.
She admitted that part of the problem slowing down the SIM registration is delays in the issuance of the Ghana Card, and also reluctance on the part of citizens after the first deadline extension in March 2022 which saw the registration numbers drop drastically.
“As of Thursday July 21, 2022, 16,969,034 have registered for the Ghana Card with about 16,535,623 cards printed, 15,702,719 have been issued and 832,904 cards yet to be collected,” said the Minister as quoted by GNA.
As part of efforts to accelerate the process, the Communication Minister also announced the imminent launch of a self-registration app, which will facilitate the process and enable users re-register their SIM cards from the conform of their homes, writes Ghana Business News.
Meanwhile, mobile network operators (MNOs), which are playing a key role in the process, have also been calling on their customers to visit various service points and get their SIMs identified.
Prior to the July 31 deadline, MTN, one of the MNOs, had urged users of its services to approach any of the 6,700 registration points across the country and have their biometrics collected, as reports Business Ghana.
In the meantime, there has been a buzz on Ghana’s Twitter space these past days with Ghanaians expressing divergent views regarding the Ghana Card and the SIM re-registration exercise.