The third deadline for re-registration of mobile phone SIM cards – September 30, will soon be up after the second deadline of July 31 expired. Many people are still waiting to acquire the primary document, the Ghana Card, for the re re-registration of their SIM cards.
Even though lots of people have successfully re-registered their mobile phone numbers during this extension period, it appears there will still be a lot more whose phone numbers will automatically be rendered inactive come September 30 because they failed to re-register, primarily because they still have not obtained the requisite Ghana Card which serves as documentation for the process.
However, there are still logistical bottlenecks – albeit not particularly widespread – but which have deprived some people from securing their cards while some others have simply not found the time or made the requisite effort to obtain their cards.
The acquisition of the Ghana Card is also expected to help speed up the process of developing a credit system in the country with Credit Scoring by the Credit Reference Agencies.
A credit reference agency is an independent organisation that securely holds data, including one’s credit applications, accounts and financial behaviour.
The Ghana Card will also provide a key anchor that will provide a unique identity and essential information about the bearer, including bank accounts, SIM card, SSNIT, NHIS and many more.
The National Digital Property Address System will then provide a definite location for the borrower.
The data will then be used to generate a credit score, stating one’s credit worthiness and help to determine how much premium should be put on any application for a loan or hire-purchase if any.
This for us will help speed up the process of financial integration and inclusion, which anchors economic growth and development.
It is for this reason that the Daily Graphic adds its voice to calls by some citizens that the deadline for the re-registration of mobile SIM cards be extended to the end of the year in order to give ample time for many people to re-register in view of the logistical constraints from the NIA.
We therefore propose that the re-registration exercise should be extended until all Ghanaians willing to secure the Ghana cards have secured them; that is until all bottlenecks everywhere around the country have been removed.
This is because when the deadline expires and many more people have still not re-registered due to their inability to secure the Ghana Cards through no fault of theirs, even those who have re-registered will suffer profound inconvenience since some of the people they would wish to call or receive calls from may not have registered. This situation will apply to SMS and WhatsApp messages too.
Combined with the drop in E-levy collection, the effects of the re-registration will have a huge effect on MoMo usage and, consequently, financial inclusion.
We are mindful of the fact that the government is in a hurry largely because the issuance of the cards provides the foundation for pulling the informal sector into the income tax net and SIM card re-registration remains the most persuasive way to force everyone to get one.
The government also needs all the revenues it can get from the telecommunications industry which it regards as a low hanging fruit, which is why the taxes imposed on it – payable by both telcos and their customers – are of a higher collective rate than virtually any other sector.
Certainly, the government’s purported primary reasons for the re-registration of SIM cards – to curb cybercrime and enhance national security against terrorism and the likes - are very much valid. So is the much less mentioned but much more policy-driven reason of laying a key part of the foundation required to rope in the informal sector into the tax net.
An extension perhaps to the end of the year will be appropriate in order to ensure that the obstacles constricting the issuance of the Ghana Card to every member of the populace are removed. This certainly is imperative considering the downside effects of taking a significant proportion of the populace offline.