Ghana’s regulator unhappy with few SIM Card registration centres in rural areas

Telecoms

The National Communication Authority (NCA) has expressed worry about the inadequate registration centres by telecom operators to register SIM cards in the rural areas.

Many rural people in the Upper West and Northern Regions, who possessed mobile phones, had the trouble of traveling long distances either to the district capitals or regional capitals at a cost to have their phones registered.

Some members in the rural communities were still not also aware of the directive by the NCA to register their phones before June 30, 2011.

Mr Abed Bandim, Consumer Affairs Manager at the NCA made this known at a partnership interaction forum held in Wa with members of the Information Services Department and the media in Upper West Region on Friday.

The partnership would enable the Information Services Department and the media to reach out to the rural people and educate them on the need to have their mobile phones registered to help to promote national security, cohesion and integration.

Mr Bandim said the NCA was aware that some network operators, which were tasked to register their clients, had not been doing what was expected of them, thereby denying many people from registering their phones for no fault of theirs.

He noted that mobile phones helped to enhance cohesion among people but unfortunately, some people in society used the facility to perpetuate crime and other negative activities, hence the need to register the SIM cards in order to help to reduce crimes.

He said NCA was also worried about some students and professional bodies such as the Police and the Army using their workplace identity cards to register their SIM cards rather than the National Identification Authority Card, National Health Insurance Identity Card and the Voters Identity Card.

Mr Bandim announced that registration of SIM cards are free of charge and appealed to service providers not to take advantage of the rural people to charge them when they came to register their phones.

The registration exercise should not also be misconstrued to be tax component of government’s revenue mobilisation efforts or taking advantage to eavesdrop people’s conversations.

Government is not directly interested in listening to people’s communications; it is only interested when the communication is negative and has security implication, Mr Bandim said.

He pointed out that the reason for the registration of SIM cards as among others was to enable the network operators to have data for themselves and that of the client.

He said people should report to the police, as well as network operators about the missing of their phones as quickly as possible to avoid people who picked them to use them to carry out criminal activities.

During open forum, members of the media suggested that family members should report to the police and network operators their relatives who possessed mobile phones but were dead.

They expressed fear that some family members could still use such phones to cause crime and go scot-free without notice.

The media appealed to the network operators to issue receipts to clients, who came to register their phones so that they could show them to the service providers whenever their phones got missing.