The government has given a March 31, 2022 deadline for all Ghanaians to link Their SIM cards to their Ghana Cards or the former will be deactivated.
Everyone is currently rushing to beat the deadline but it would appear the system itself is dragging the process and threatening to deny people of their access to communication service come March 31.
Simply put, there are grave delays in the SIM Registration process and it is mainly because of the collection of customers’ biodata by the telcos as directed by the regulator, even though the biodata has already been collected and stored on the Ghana Card by the National ID Authority (NIA).
The telcos have been mandated by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to collect biodata all over again even though the government told us the reason for using only the Ghana Card for SIM registration was specifically because that is the only card that has all the data needed to create an authentic SIM Register.
From day one this issue was raised but it was brushed aside as if there is some other genuine reason why the biodata needs to be collected again.
The whole purpose of making Ghana Card the only ID card for SIM registration is because we were told it is only the Ghana Card that has all the biodata needed to know and trace any and everyone easily. At least that was what we were told, and that was why some of us supported the idea of Ghana Card only, in the face of stiff opposition.
Currently, if you want to link your Ghana Card to your Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) card, you dial *711*9# and follow the prompts. It means SSNIT employed the services of a tech company to get NCA to license a shortcode for them, got the telcos to activate it and they are using it to facilitate the linkage process remotely without stressing customers.
It is rather ironic that when it came to the tech industry people – the players and regulators working to link Ghana Card to SIM cards, have rather employed a private entity to develop an App to collect our biodata all over again. This is very spurious, to say the least.
It defies common sense that the regulator of the telecom space is rather the one collecting biodata all over again when others are using the services of the telcos to just verify what has been collected already by NIA. NCA is trying to tell us that without collecting biodata again, they cannot do SIM Registration. That cannot be and is never true.
And what is even more worrying is that NCA has employed the services of Kelni GVG to develop an app for the purpose of collecting our biodata. That additional layer in the SIM registration exercise is largely the reason for the delays and long queues in the midst of Covid-19.
Only two things come to mind:
1. Either this is a mark of incompetence at the National Communications Authority or
2. Some people at NCA and in government have a private and parochial interest in collecting our biodata for their selfish benefit.
I strongly doubt that the NCA could not have used a process where it verifies the data on the Ghana Card by referencing it to the NIA database, rather than making a private entity like Kelni GVG collect and hold our biodata. This is what people in public office, particularly in the communications sector, often do while in office; they set things up for their private benefit when they leave office. They pretend to be serving some national interest but the ultimate aim is a selfish one.
And the worrying part is that when you ask questions, NCA chooses to remain as silent as a certain “dead goat” on you, and yet it is your data that is being collected anyway, without any valid and tangible explanation as to why the biodata from NIA on the Ghana Card is not enough for the purpose.
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia told us the NIA database was going to be a single reference point for verifying the IDs of everyone, but it appears NCA, the Communications Ministry and their cohorts at Kelni GVG are creating a shadow verification platform by using state resources to collect another set of biodata to be stored with Kelni GVG, so that one day when they are out of office, they can leverage that for a lucrative retirement plan.
If NCA was in the shoes of NIA, how would they feel about the fact that upon all the work they have done to collect the biodata of Ghanaians, another state institution which purports to be using the NIA database for a national exercise is also collecting their own biodata? It is duplication and a very suspicious enterprise with a possible private agenda. And I am told NIA is very worried about it.
One more reason why this is worrying is that even though it is illegal for people to send an unsolicited electronic communication to us without our consent, the NPP and NDC did have our details and sent us these messages during the 2020 electioneering campaign period. The NCA pretended to have issued some statement warning against the illegality but did nothing to sanction anyone after the fact.
The suspicion was that the NPP, in particular, may have acquired our contacts from Kelni GVG because that company has our contacts and they are at the beck and call of the NPP government. Besides, they can sell that data out to anyone for any purpose, just like Electoral Commission was selling our data to private companies. Indeed, telcos can also do the same to us, anyway.
But the question still begging for answers is why is NCA using Kelni GVG to collect our biodata again and unnecessarily dragging the SIM registration process when all the biodata they need is already on the Ghana Card, which is the only card accepted for SIM registration?
NCA cannot keep pretending that question has not been asked. They cannot keep playing the ostrich on this all-important matter. We need answers and we must get them.
Meanwhile, an NCA official is on social media purporting to provide answers and claiming a certain law requires that a separate SIM Register independent of NIA should be kept. The weakness of that statement is that it was the same NCA that told Ghanaians Ghana Card is the only card valid for the purpose. So if they were going to take another biodata, anyway, then why did they have to wait for Ghana Card to do SIM Registration – could they not have used all other national IDs and taken their bio-data then?
Why mislead Ghanaians that the use of Ghana Card provides the needed biodata, then turn round today and say a certain law says you should take another biodata using a private company’s app just to slow down the SIM registration process? And to even further make things worse, they built the app in a way that makes it incompatible with a lot of devices, making it difficult for telcos to employ the services of the majority of their agents to facilitate the process.
There is no way NCA can convince anyone that the collection of another set of biodata is a necessary evil. They should be humble and quit that unnecessary process and use the data from NIA to verify IDs and to generate their SIM Register.