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No option but to once again extend the SIM Registration deadline

This Friday, September 30, 2022, is the agreed final deadline for Ghanaians yet to link their SIM Cards with their Ghana Cards and the penalty is that all unlinked SIM cards would be blocked.

However, with just days to the deadline, facts on the ground strongly suggest that the deadline begs for yet another re-extension probably to an indefinite date because the National Identification Authority (NIA) has stated that it will not be able to issue all eligible Ghanaians with Ghana Cards, the key primary document needed for the SIM registration.

There are over two million eligible Ghanaians yet to get their Ghana Cards from the NIA. Without the Ghana Card, the SIM registration cannot be complete. The Ghana Card is issued by only the NIA. The NIA says it is unable to issue all eligible Ghanaians with the Card to enable them register their SIM cards before the deadline.

Impliedly, there would be some two million Ghanaians who through no fault of theirs cannot register their SM cards ahead of the deadline. Blocking the SIM cards of the said two million plus Ghanaians who through no fault of theirs are unable to register would certainly spark all manner of protests and possible law suits against the Government.

It is unfortunate that the otherwise brilliant initiative by the Communications Ministry continues to suffer such major hitches. While the hitches remain unresolved, beneficiaries of cyber crime continue to flourish. While the hitches remain unresolved, the full benefits of getting all SIM cards reregistered and linked to the Ghana Cards of the SIM card owners remains unachieved. Ghana is the biggest loser in all of this.

But here we are, instead of the relevant stakeholder institutions having a round table to hold an honest and frank dialogue on the most practicable and best way forward, they seem to be on an egoistic battle for supremacy.

How else can this be logically explained? If not for a very poor consultation between the stakeholders and a seeming friction or unsettled disputes among the partner institutions, how on earth was it not envisaged that the NIA would not be able to give Ghanaians the very document needed for the SIM card registration before the unanimously agreed deadline?

The SIM Card registration exercise began on October 1, 2021. It was originally scheduled to end on March 31, 2022. When the time came, there was a public outcry that many Ghanaians were yet to register and that Government was being insensitive.

It was extended by the Minister for Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to July 31, 2022. At the threshold of the deadline, Government was compelled to extend the deadline again to September 30, 2022.

A few days to September 30, the NIA says there are some two million Ghanaians yet to get their Ghana Cards and therefore cannot get registered.

Even a primary school child would start to ask questions that what consultations and assurances were held between the Communications Ministry, the National Communications Authority, and the National Identification Authority before the deadline was set?

We have heard from the NIA. Perhaps the Communications Ministry may have to come clear and clean on the basis for which the September 30 deadline was set.

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