The Ministry of Communications has announced that almost 280,000 merchant SIMs have not been registered, offering fraudsters an opportunity to use them in perpetuating their activities. The Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, provided an update on the SIM re-registration exercise in Parliament, stating that all unregistered merchant SIMs will be blocked permanently at the end of June 2023.
“I have also been informed that almost 280,000 merchant SIMs have not been registered. A viral video doing the rounds on social media a few weeks ago indicated that some criminal networks have actually acquired merchant SIMs to facilitate fraudulent activities. Let me reiterate once again, that all unregistered merchant SIMs will be blocked permanently at the end of June 2023,” she stated.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful urged victims of illegal acts to notify the National Communications Authority (NCA) for action to be taken against the perpetrators. She further advised subscribers who were unable to complete the second stage of the registration process to contact the NCA to have their SIMs registered.
“I will urge victims of illegal acts to notify the National Communications Authority (NCA) and action will be taken to deter this process. I have also heard complaints that though they had registered their SIMs, those SIMs were blocked. My information is that several of these complaints are from people who didn’t complete the second stage of the process as required. Such people should contact the NCA to have their SIMs registered and owners of the SIMs will get their numbers back after duly registration.
She added, “They must act timeously as the NCA will announce when this moratorium will end after which all unregistered SIMs will permanently be blocked from the networks. If your line has been blocked, and you still need it, please go and register. There may be however some whose SIMs are blocked inadvertently in full registration. Kindly notify the NCA and a full investigation will be conducted to be determined if this was really the case and why it happened”.
The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation announced that Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) are working with the Bank of Ghana to facilitate the retrieval of funds for individuals whose monies are locked up in mobile money accounts. Numerous subscribers have voiced their concerns regarding the inability to access their funds on mobile money accounts after their SIM cards were deactivated for failing to re-register them.
The Minister assured subscribers that the MNOs and the Bank of Ghana are working together to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Reacting to the presentation by the Minister, the Member of Parliament for Tamale South, Haruna Iddrisu, says the deactivation of SIMs has affected social relationships in the country.
‘We are discussing the viability and social significance of mobile telephony. Those whose SIMs have so being blocked some have suffered relationship problems, some probably have lost their girlfriends, or contact with their significant others, and some have been threatened with divorce, very possible.
“Because why have you not reached out to him or her because your SIM has been blocked. That excuse may be creating problems for many marriages with this SIM block as a social problem… Don’t just block SIMs, when the fault is not coming from the person who is holding the SIM,” the former Minority Leader noted. Haruna Iddrisu questioned the Communications Minister whether proper consultation was done before the blocking of the various SIMs.
“Mr. Speaker, it an imperative for us to support the Minister and government to succeed in getting Ghanaian SIM holders properly registered for purposes of fighting crimes, particularly unanimous crimes and for purposes for which mobile telephony has come to be accepted as a very important tool.
He added, “Mr. Speaker cautious in wanting to accept the Minister’s declaration of a huge success of the exercise. Minister, we will caution you when you come to be a judge in your court and then make a declaration of how you profound the success of the SIM registration is. I want to highlight for the Minister’s attention three issues, 1. stakeholder consultation, how thorough, and how comprehensive was the engagement and consultation with stakeholders including the regulator the NCA. The telecom chamber and mobile network operators in our country, what is the level of consultation that is leading to the conclusion that you have come to”.
He called for synchronization of data.
“Ghana needs a dedicated SIM regime, there are too many silos of data in Ghana. Why are you taking biometrics for SSNIT, Ghana Card, SIM card registration, National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), and Voters card, what this country needs is synchronization and harmonization of data,” he suggested.