Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalization, has responded to criticism directed at her over the SIM card re-registration programme her Ministry is overseeing.
She pointed out at a press conference on Sunday, July 31, that she has been unfairly attacked because of people’s inability to access their Ghana Card, the sole identification card required for the re-registration.
According to her, even though the Ghana Card is required to register SIM cards, challenges with the card fall under the National Identification Authority (NIA) which is under the Ministry of Interior.
“The Ministry of Communications and Digitalization is not the supervisory Ministry for the NIA even though we collaborate and work with them. My hapless self has been roundly vilified for Ghana card challenges which I am not responsible for.
“Prof. Attafuah and his Sector Minister, Ambrose Dery are available to answer any question,” the Minister said during the press briefing.
She announced an extension for the SIM card re-registration at the briefing, stating that the final deadline will be September ending, which will give a full year for the registration.
“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 pogramme will be extended to 30th September to end on the anniversary of its commencement. That will give us one full year of SIM registration to 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 fully 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,” the minister stated.
The SIM card registration exercise began on 31st October 2021 and was expected to end on 31st March 2022 but as of 17th March, over 14 million SIM cards had been linked to the Ghana Card with over 10 million Bio-Captures conducted and 99,445 new SIMs registered.
Due to a number of factors including the fact that over 7.5 million citizens and residents were yet to obtain Ghana Cards to enable them register their SIM cards, it was clear the deadline for completion of the registration of the remaining active SIM cards could not be met.
As a result, the ministry extended the deadline to July 31, 2022. However reports from multiple media outlets including GhanaWeb indicated that as of Saturday, July 30, thousands have either not registered their Ghana Card or SIM cards.
This led to several calls on the government and the ministry to cause an extension to the July 31 deadline.