Telecoms bled during SIM deactivation exercise
Telecoms bled during SIM deactivation exercise

Telecoms bled during SIM deactivation exercise

Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) saw a dip in their daily revenue after the National Communications Authority (NCA) directed the deactivation of all SIM cards that had not been linked to a Ghana card. 

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With about 8.9 million SIM cards barred from voice and data services between June 1 and 5 this year, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, told the Graphic Business in an interview that the companies suffered some losses. 

Although Mr Ashigbey could not give the exact amount of revenue that was lost within the period, he said the sheer number of customers that were barred from voice and data services, as well as mobile money accounts, could indicate the quantum of lost revenue. 

Complete process 

However, Mr Ashigbey said the grace period for reactivating deactivated SIM cards was still in progress and the public must, therefore, take advantage of it now.

“The most important thing is that the grace period is not defined. The NCA has just given us this concession to go ahead and just bar, but not delete. But they are monitoring the situation and checking those who are not really interested,” he said.

Although he was unable to state the exact number of SIM cards that had been reactivated, he said the window was open now for the reactivation for those who would be able to complete the process.

“You know, the initial directive by the NCA was to bar, deactivate and de-link from the SIM database. However, engaging with players in the industry, the NCA has been magnanimous enough to say that currently, we should bar. 

“What is happening is that, all of the 8.9 million subscribers are not able to make calls, not able to send SMS, neither are they able to also do mobile money or do any of the data services”.

“Once they do the linking, they have to go ahead and get their biometrics captured to complete their registration. When they do that, they then restore their services and get their numbers back,” Mr Ashigbey advised.

Mr Ashigbey said the option available for persons whose mobile money accounts had been blocked was the same as any other affected subscriber.

“What they need to do is to get their Ghana Cards and get their SIM cards registered.

“If they register their SIM, they will get their mobile money back, but if they do not have their Ghana Card yet, they can contact the NCA on 03070114119 or reach them on the toll number 080110622,” he added.

Context

At the inception of the re-registration exercise on October 1, 2021, there were about 42 million active SIM cards in the country.

They were made up of SIM cards registered with identity cards (IDs) such as the National Health Insurance Scheme cards, passports and driving licences.

The NCA, at whose behest the re-registration, started said a lot of the IDs were not verified at the time they were used to register the SIMs, hence the re-registration.

After the first phase of the exercise, there were about 36 million active SIM cards in circulation as of last month, out of which 25 million (69.6 per cent) had been duly re-registered.

This means that over 25.4 million SIM cards had completed both stages one and two of the SIM re-registration, which was done with verified Ghana Cards.

The remaining 11 million, representing 30.4 per cent, include active SIM cards exempted based on various demographics and active SIM cards that had not been registered with the Ghana Card using the current process.

Already, the NCA has deactivated about 6.1 million SIM cards which belonged to subscribers that had completed only stage one of the current registration process.

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