The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation (MoCD) has commenced the National SIM Card Re-Registration Exercise across the country.
Network operators or service providers are required by the Subscriber Identity Module Registration Regulations, 2011, L. I 2006, to activate a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) only after the subscriber registers the SIM as directed by the NCA.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, stated this on Sunday, September 5, 2021, at the Minister’s Press Briefing at the Ministry of Information’s Press Center.
According to her, every subscriber must provide their name, residential or occupational address, date of birth, and an identification document in the case of an individual; a Certificate of Incorporation in the case of a corporation; or a registration in the case of a partnership or an unincorporated body of persons; and a Certificate of Incorporation in the case of a partnership or an unincorporated body of persons. For the registration of SIM cards of citizens, foreign residents, and foreigners staying in Ghana for more than 90 days, only the National Identity Card (Ghana Card) provided to an individual may be utilized.
She went on to say that foreigners residing in Ghana for fewer than 90 days must have a valid passport or another travel document.
“This isn’t the first attempt to register sims,” she explained, “but all earlier attempts failed due to a lack of a genuine secure identification paper.” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated that the aforementioned issue resulted in an influx of pre-registered SIM Cards in the system, resulting in our incapacity to identify and trace persons who use the SIM cards to conduct crimes.
“Because of the prevalence of fake IDs and the lack of a system for checking IDs, unscrupulous individuals were able to obtain hundreds of SIM Cards for SIM Boxing, resulting in a loss of money for the state.” “This time, the Ghana card offers the foundation for a successful sim registration procedure,” she explained.
“SIM registration, when done correctly, as we intend to do, will reduce or eliminate fraudulent and criminal activities, help authorities determine the exact number of valid and accurate SIMs on the networks, enable operators to build better demographics of their customer base, and help them develop products and services to suit the various groupings,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated.
She also claims that the Regulator, NCA, will receive more precise data in order to better control the business.
She stated that SIM Registration will boost economic growth because people will use secure devices to access E-Government services and other private mobile-based digital solutions as their faith in the telecommunications sector grow. “It will reduce mobile money fraud and help underprivileged groups gain access to banking services,” Minister stated.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful described the SIM Registration procedures. This includes the following:
1 To obtain a new SIM card, all new subscribers must present their Ghana card. Operators will be required to check the Business Registration paperwork with the Registrar General’s Department and the identity of the Shareholder or Director for Limited Liability Companies and Public Institutions, respectively, before registering sims in bulk
2 Existing users will use USSD and a SIM registration app to register their SIMs.
3 All subscribers and enterprises will be verified against the National Identification Authority and the Registrar General’s Department databases if needed. Indeed, in order to register SIMs, a shareholder or director of the company must directly be tied to the registration of the SIMs, in addition to obtaining confirmation from the Registrar General’s Department.
4 Individuals can register up to 10 SIM cards across all networks, whereas foreigners can only register up to three SIM cards across all networks. Let me add a word of warning here: consumers should not believe they can hide behind businesses and register as many SIM cards as they wish. All Business SIM Cards will be linked to a Shareholder or Director of the Company, and if a Business SIM Card is proven to have been used fraudulently, the Shareholder or Director will be held accountable.
5 The NCA will provide procedures that will allow subscribers (both individuals and businesses) to check and authenticate all SIM cards registered in their names at any time.
6 Foreign visitors to Ghana can obtain a SIM Card by presenting their passports or travel cards, but they can only use it for 30 days before it is cancelled. Foreigners who want to use a SIM card in Ghana for longer than 30 days will need to get a Non-Citizen Ghana Card. Before registering and activating a SIM Card for foreigners, the NCA has made it essential for operators to check passports and travel cards against an international database. For diplomatic employees living and working in Ghana, special accommodations will be established.
7 One of the more fascinating things we’re doing is enforcing Rule 6 of the SIM Regulations, which states:
i. “A network operator or service provider that provides international roaming service to a subscriber from another country shall engage into an agreement with the subscriber’s network operator or service provider.”
ii. “During the duration that the subscriber uses the Subscriber Identity Module in the country, the agreement shall provide for the subscriber’s particulars in the records of the network operator or service provider.”
We feel that enforcing this will prevent would-be fraudsters and criminals from utilizing SIM cards from other countries to participate in an illicit activity on Ghanaian networks.
8. To aid E-education and account for the increased use of communication services since the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. The minimum age for registration is 15 years old.
9 For the first time in Ghana, a SIM Register will be established, similar to those in Brazil, Germany, and Switzerland. The SIM Register will serve as a database that will provide comprehensive statistics on the number of subscribers in Ghana, as well as a resource for tracking fraudsters and criminals.
10 Barring any unforeseen circumstances, SIM Registration will begin on October 1, 2021, and last for six (6) months, ending on March 31, 2022. Sims that have not been registered before the end of the exercise will be blocked.
11 The NIA is opening Regional and District Offices to allow Ghanaians who have not yet registered for their Ghana Card to do so, and we encourage all Ghanaians and foreigners living in Ghana to have their Ghana Cards and Non-Citizen Ghana Cards ready. Those who have registered but have not yet received their Ghana Cards should be able to do so at any of the NIA locations.
Alternatively: How To Register Your Sim Card With Your Ghana Card
1 Dial *404# on the sim card you want to register
2 Enter Ghana card pin( enter letters figures without the hyphens)
3 Confirm Ghana card pin
4 Enter your surname, first name, and other names
5 Enter your date of birth in this format DDMMYY
6 Select your sex
7 Confirm details
8 Submit the details provides after confirmation
9 Visit your service provider( Agent Customer care) to complete the registration
Note: If successful you will get a confirmation message with a unique code
If you are unsuccessful due to a verification failure at the national identification authority (NIA), you will be notified to contact the NIA.
Data Security and Protection
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful explained that registration information will be made available to law enforcement agencies upon receipt of a court order to help them prevent, detect, investigate, and prosecute fraud and other criminal activities, as well as to assist in emergencies and national security situations such as terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and public health emergencies.
The information will be kept in a Central SIM Registry at the National Information Technology Agency, she said, with access to the database restricted. “The Data Protection Act of 2012 will be strictly followed” (Act 843). In addition, the Data Protection Commission is a crucial participant in this process,” she noted.
Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR)
As stated in the Executive Instrument 63 Minister, the government would implement handset and equipment registration alongside SIM registration and establish the CEIR.
“In order to aggregate all IMEIs from all local operators in a single national IMEI database, the Central Equipment Identity Register links to MNOs’ systems in a non-intrusive manner.”
Mobile device makers estimate that roughly 5 million mobile devices are imported into the country each year, but barely 60% of these imports pay the proper customs fees and taxes, according to Mrs Owusu-Ekuful.
According to data from the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), 40% of these mobile devices enter the Ghanaian market illegally, preventing the government from benefiting from the expected tax revenue. Ghana has approximately 34 million mobile subscribers, with a mobile penetration rate exceeding 119 per cent, and a large market for mobile devices.
According to her, Ghana’s unregulated industry has resulted in a thriving device black market, with smuggled mobile device sales, a high rate of device theft, and the cloning of device identifications. Smuggled devices are sold on the open market, at unofficial retail outlets, and on the internet.
The impact of smuggling and trading of counterfeit mobile devices include the following:
- Government revenue loss since these products enter the market via unauthorized means, avoiding the payment of appropriate customs and taxes.
- Registered firms face unfair competition from illegal gadgets, which are less expensive and pose a danger to legitimate businesses’ viability.
- Health Consequences of devices on the market that are not built to fulfil regulatory criteria, resulting in high RF exposure, which can lead to cancer and other diseases, as well as catastrophic battery explosions.
- Inadequate hardware and software design causes more call dropouts, exhausting network resources, and resulting in poor service quality and user experience.
- Criminal gangs are bringing in stolen phones from other countries.
- Creates an incentive for device theft and resale, raising crime rates and increasing citizens’ feelings of insecurity. Other crimes can be committed with this stolen equipment.
Establishment Of The Central Equipment Identity Registry
To combat the smuggling and trade of counterfeit, stolen, and substandard mobile devices, and to increase the potential for increased revenues, the Communications and Digitalisation Minister revealed that technology has been developed to ensure that these devices only work when they enter the country legally.
“A Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) keeps track of all devices in the country, reducing the number of smuggled and counterfeit mobile gadgets.”
She claims that each cellular network maintains an Equipment Identity Registry (EIR), which is a database that stores all of the IMEI numbers of all of the users’ devices. The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) is a unique identification code assigned to all Global System for Mobile (GSM) devices, she explained. “When a mobile device connects to a specific network, the MSC requests the mobile device’s IMEI, which is then forwarded to the EIR for further authorization.”
CEIR is a common EIR database that combines IMEI numbers from all networks’ EIR. Because the information is maintained in the CEIR, it will be updated on a regular basis in all of the networks’ EIRs,” she explained.
She explained that the Ghana CEIR will be linked to a global database (GSMA database) in order to retrieve the IMEI of permitted and blacklisted devices. Mobile devices entering the country will be correctly authorized as a result of this. It will also be linked to the databases of all Ghanaian mobile network operators in order to synchronize and update information on blacklisted and whitelisted devices. “This will ensure that only CEIR-approved mobile devices are allowed to operate in Ghana.” In our own repository, it will produce and preserve a list of all blacklisted and whitelisted devices.”
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful highlighted that while importing mobile devices, the IMEI of the devices must be captured in the CEIR database during the declaration process. The recorded data will be synchronized with the GSMA database, confirming the device’s standard and ownership status. During the declaration process, compliance with customs duty payment will be ensured.
The Government’s Promise
According to her, the Ghanaian government has implemented good digitalization activities and innovations, increasing the focus beyond access by creating programs and plans that focus on widespread secure adoption and usage of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs). “It is critical to encourage consumers, businesses, and government institutions to use digital applications, and we are working to build and maintain secure digital platforms, apps, and systems in Ghana.” The government believes that having a reliable SIM database and CEIR is a critical step toward improving our digitalization.”
She advised all subscribers to begin obtaining their national IDs as soon as possible in order to ensure a quick and simple registration process.
“In order for consumers and the general public to comprehend the necessity for re-registration, the procedure, and the requirement for registration, they must be empowered with knowledge and insights.” We invite all media houses to assist us to reach this goal as industry partners, and we count on your support. In the next few days, a comprehensive public awareness campaign will be performed on these topics, and we implore the media to work with the government to make this registration process a success for our collective interest, she said.