Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has suffered an increased and sustained verbal-attack with near-insults, especially on social media, on her office and person for leading Government’s directive for a nationwide re-registration of all SIM cards and linking same to the Ghana Card.
The July 31, 2022 set deadline for the re-registration after which all unregistered SIM cards were to be deactivated was however postponed at the eleventh hour to September 30, albeit under pretty complex terms and conditions.
Ursula, a tough politician cum lawyer with ‘balls of steel’ as her hallmark, has stood her ground in the midst of the attacks and insisted the directive for the re-registration is well intended and would greatly help Ghana in her efforts to prevent online and cybercrimes that have become sophisticated and destroying the country’s image.
The Minister has insisted that despite the challenges and hiccups the re-registration exercise has suffered, the intended positive objective behind the directive should be the focus while genuine steps are taken to addresses the implementation challenges as and when they pop up.
She explained that the exercise is of a critical national interest and would help law enforcement agencies to identify SIM card owners, track criminals who use phones for illegal activities, curb phone theft, hate text messaging, mobile fraud activities, SIM Box fraud, among several other issues confronting the country’s security.
Quite uncharacteristic of her, Ursula has completely ignored the offensive attacks on her person as she has remained focused on getting the National Communications Authority (NCA), the telecommunication companies and other relevant stakeholders to co-operate and get the SIM cards re-registration done with a sense of urgency.
A major basis of disagreement and public uproar was when the Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, announced that the July 31st deadline would not be extended under any circumstances whatsoever.
There were complaints that there still exist hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians who through no fault of theirs have not been able to get their Ghana Cards and therefore cannot take part in the SIM card re-registration exercise.
On the set date of the deadline, which was Sunday July 31, 2022, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful told a presser in Accra that the SIM-card re-registration exercise has been once again, extended to the end of September this year.
Addressing journalists yesterday, Madam Ursula said the extension followed consultations with relevant stakeholders.
“Upon consultation with the industry and in view of the challenges enumerated above, I have very reluctantly decided to grant a 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,” she said.
In addition to solve the long queues at various network providers, she revealed government is preparing to launch a mobile app – which would be available for download on both android and IOS to enable the public re-register their SIM cards in the comfort of their homes.
The app she indicated is an innovative way to add up to the already way of doing the registration, adding that there will be public education on the use as part of its roll-out.
“The SIM Registration App will be available for download on both android and IOS this week barring any unforeseen circumstances. Each registration via the app will be subject to a 5 cedi surcharge.”