New deadlines for SIM re-registration are impractical; poised to fail – Sam George

Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekukful (Right) and Sam George
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Ningo Prampram Member of Parliament Samuel Nartey George has said the new deadlines set out by the Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, will fail again.

In a series of tweets, while reacting to the new deadlines, he said “@UrsulaOw blames everyone but herself for the mess we face today with registration. The deadlines she has given are impractical and poised to fail even before commencement. We are uncertain the robustness of the paid for app she says would launch 2 days

“… after her deadline has lapsed. Again, we see incoherence in her directive to Ghanaians in the diaspora to use their Passports. The same passports she is refusing for us to use within the jurisdiction. This is a tragic comedy of poor policy decisions, shambolic …

“… implementation plans and a clueless approach to technology roll out. Her shambolic public policy implementation would be studied in lecture rooms across the world as how not to implement a public policy.”

Owusu-Ekuful has extended the deadline again for the SIM re-registration exercise which should have ended today Sunday, July 31.

She said she reluctantly granted the request to prolong the deadline following a number of genuine reasons that have been given by stakeholders including the telecom companies.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Sunday, July 31, she said “The NIA has not been able to issue all eligible persons with the Ghana Card. As at Thursday, July 21, 2022, 16,969,034 individuals have registered for the Ghana Card, with about 16,535,623 cards printed. 15,702,719 cards have been issued whereas some 832,904 cards have not been distributed or collected.”

With Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) Registrations, she said ” The BWAs commenced registration barely a week ago and have only been able to register just about 2% of their subscribers as at Friday 29th July. Many data only SIMS have also not been registered and my information is that their owners were not aware they also needed to be registered.

“The security situation in Bawku and its environs made it difficult for the registration of residents and has slowed down the process in that area considerably. I have also been informed that some people who have obtained quick loans from their service providers have decided not to register those SIMs to avoid repaying the loans. That is evil corruption and you will be found out.

“The Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) and the National Communications Authority (NCA) (and I dare say the NIA too) have all engaged additional staff, procured the necessary logistics and are incurring significant expenses to conduct this exercise successfully. Any extension of the process increases their cost. Upon consultation with the industry and in view of the challenges enumerated above, I have very reluctantly decided to grant a final conditional extension.

“The programme will be extended to 30th September to end on the anniversary of its commencement. That will give us one full year of SIM registration. It will be reviewed at the end of this month and any SIM that has not been fully registered by the end of August will be barred from receiving certain services including voice and data services.

“It will also be more expensive to use unregistered SIMs. The full range of punitive measures will be announced at another press briefing in September. Kindly do not blame your service provider when you suffer that fate due to your own inaction. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

“I must end by reminding us all that the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation is not the supervisory ministry for the National Identification Authority, even though we collaborate with them. My hapless self has been roundly vilified in certain quarters particularly this past week for Ghana card challenges for which I am not responsible. Prof. Ken Attafuah and his sector Minister, Hon. Ambrose Dery, Minister for the Interior, are available to answer any Ghana card related issue please. I am staying firmly in my lane. “

It is recalled that her Former Deputy George Andah earlier suggested an extension of the deadline but that should be done under strict conditions.

He said, persons who are unable to re-register before the July 31 deadline may have to be denied some telecom services, whether not being able to make or receive calls, or unable to send messages until they are fully re-registered.

Speaking on the Key Points on TV3 on Saturday, July 30, the former lawmaker for Awutu Senya West indicated that there are some persons who have decided not to take part in the exercise and further suggested that such persons, if possible, should be identified and yanked.

But the others who have genuine concerns about their inability to re-register should be given another opportunity to do so but of course, under tight conditions.

He further called on all Ghanaians to look at the exercise from a nationalistic point of view.

“Nobody is insensitive to the challenges the people are going through to get this done. We should partisanship aside and look at it from the nationalistic point of view or what is in the best interest of the nation,” he added.

Earlier, Madam Ursula Owusu-Ekuful served notice that the deadline remains July 31. It was earlier pushed forward from 31st March to 31st July.

“More time will be required to update the SIM Registration App for the registration of diplomats, while a Self-Service SIM Registration App is also being developed to facilitate registration of SIM cards for Ghanaians resident abroad.

“This will be operational by mid-April,” a statement issued by Madam Owusu-Ekuful said on Tuesday, March 22.

Addressing a forum in Kumasi on Friday, July 22, she appealed to all persons who are yet to re-register their cards to do so before the deadline.

“I, therefore, appeal to them to do so before the 31st of July,” she said.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana

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