Massive Turnout at NIA Centres as Subscribers Rush for Ghana Card Amid SIM Card Deactivation

11 Million Unregistered SIM Cards Face Disconnection as Ghana Card Registration Deadline Nears

As the deadline for re-registering SIM cards with the Ghana Card looms, approximately 11 million active Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards remain unregistered and risk being disconnected or deleted. In response to this, numerous individuals, particularly those registering their SIMs for the first time, have flocked to National Identification Authority (NIA) centers in a desperate attempt to obtain their Ghana Card.

The Ghana Card is the sole accepted identification document required for completing the re-registration process of SIM cards. When the Daily Graphic visited several NIA centers, including the Premium Center at the NIA’s head office in Shiashie, Accra, and other premium centers in different regions, long queues of last-minute applicants were observed, rushing to finalize the process.

While the NIA’s Premium Center has the capacity to process 650 applications without overcrowding, the influx of applicants has forced the NIA to set up canopies outside its halls to accommodate the growing numbers. It is worth noting that many subscribers have come to link their Ghana Card with their SIM cards to comply with the National Communications Authority (NCA) requirement before the May 31 deadline.

Professor Ken Agyeman Attafuah, the Executive Secretary of the NIA, expressed regret that such a large number of people were willing to pay a premium fee of GH¢280 for a service that was available for free just a few weeks earlier. He attributed this rush to the tendency of some individuals to delay obtaining the Ghana Card until the deadlines were imminent.

Prof. Attafuah explained that due to the NIA’s daily operational capacity, which includes that of its key partner CAL Bank, as well as the limited availability of cards at the moment, the NIA would not be able to issue cards to all those visiting its premium centers. He acknowledged that the NIA’s head office had a daily capacity of approximately 650, while other premium centers had slightly less capacity, making it impossible to cater to the thousands of applicants before the SIM card re-registration deadline.

However, in response to the approaching deadline, the NIA established additional registration points to alleviate the pressure. These points, along with the traditional NIA offices where Ghana Card services could be accessed for free, were intended to provide more opportunities for people to register.

Prof. Attafuah emphasized that as a responsive state institution, the NIA did not take pleasure in seeing Ghanaians endure the anguish of queuing. He noted that each time the SIM card re-registration deadline was extended, people became complacent, resulting in the additional registration points and NIA offices becoming deserted. However, when the deadline approached, there was a sudden surge in demand, often leading to chaotic situations and even additional costs for applicants.

Premium service.

NIA Opens Doors to Unbooked Applicants in Response to High Demand and Deadline Pressure

Professor Attafuah acknowledged that while the premium service typically required appointments, the NIA had made an exception considering the overwhelming demand caused by the approaching deadline. The NIA had opened its doors to hundreds of individuals, even those without prior appointments, to assist them in meeting the registration deadline.

To accommodate the increased numbers and provide some comfort, the NIA set up canopies and chairs at its centers. Professor Attafuah expressed regret over the situation, acknowledging that it was unfortunate for so many people to endure long queues and exposure to the sun for a paid service that had previously been available to the public at no cost.

Despite the challenges, the NIA was committed to addressing the situation and ensuring that as many applicants as possible could complete their registrations before the deadline.


Increased Turnout of AirtelTigo Subscribers for SIM Card Re-registration as Deadline Approaches

Felicia Thornhill, the Public Relations Manager of AirtelTigo, informed the Daily Graphic that a significant number of AirtelTigo subscribers visited their premises yesterday to initiate the SIM card re-registration process. This surge in attendance was unlike the previous weeks and months leading up to the May 31 deadline.

To ensure that all subscribers were registered and to avoid the inconvenience of deactivations, which would be detrimental to the business, the company deployed a majority of its staff to assist subscribers in the re-registration process. Each staff member was assigned the responsibility of reaching out to approximately 10 subscribers who were yet to complete the registration, offering reminders and assistance to complete the process.

Ms. Thornhill emphasized the potential impact on their business and expressed a desire for an extension to the deadline, as there were still many customers who had not completed the registration exercise.


Significant Progress Made in SIM Card Re-registration, but 11 Million Cards Remain Unregistered

When the SIM card re-registration exercise began on October 1, 2021, there were approximately 42 million active SIM cards in Ghana. These cards were registered with various identification documents such as National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards, passports, and driving licenses.

The National Communications Authority (NCA), which initiated the re-registration exercise, discovered that many of these identification documents were not properly verified during the registration process.

As of last month, after the completion of the first phase of the exercise, there were approximately 36 million active SIM cards in circulation. Out of this number, 25 million SIM cards (69.6 percent) have been successfully re-registered in both stages one and two using verified Ghana Cards.

This leaves around 11 million SIM cards (30.4 percent) that are either exempted based on specific demographics or have not been registered with the Ghana Card using the current process.

To ensure compliance, the NCA has already deactivated around 6.1 million SIM cards belonging to subscribers who had only completed stage one of the registration process.

The deadline for SIM card re-registration is tomorrow, following a previous announcement of mass disconnection for unregistered SIM cards before April 17, 2023. At that time, approximately 33.8 million SIM cards (79.6 percent) had only completed the first phase of linking their Ghana Cards to their SIM cards, while 8.65 million subscribers (20.4 percent) had not yet linked their Ghana cards to their SIM cards.

In response to the situation, the NCA extended the deadline in order to include all subscribers and encourage them to complete the re-registration process.

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