Slow Pace of SIM Card Re-registration: MTN Ghana Adopts Strategies to Beat Hurdles  

MTN Ghana CEO, Selorm Adadevoh

Accra, Ghana//-MTN Ghana has adopted strategies to re-register its numerous customers in the ongoing SIM card re-registration exercise sanctioned by the Ghanaian government.

Despite the slow pace of the exercise, the leading telecoms company mentioned the visiting of institutions, market visits, and special days, among others are some of the strategies that it has adopted to register its voice and fixed broadband SIM card holders across the country.

Senior Manager, Regulatory Affairs at MTN Ghana, Samuel Bartels who disclosed this to journalists at a virtual forum held in Accra, explained that the company was working around the clock to meet the 31st March, 2021 deadline given by the government through the National Communications Authority (NCA).

In their bid to meet the deadline, SIM Card holders in the country are being in long and zigzag queues to re-register their cards at the MTN, Airteltigo, Glo Mobile and Vodafone service centres.

Some customers according to media reports spend over 30 minutes at the centres just to re-register their SIM cards. But in a normal sense, a simple SIM card re-registration with customers’ biometric ID card (Ghana Card) should take less than 10 minutes.

Why the delays?

Tracing the delays at the various centres, Mr Bartels attributed them to the app deployed by the Kelni GVG, which the NCA has mandated all telecoms companies to use for the collection of biometric data during registration.

He admitted the slow pace of the re-registration exercise but said that MTN and the other telecoms firms are only complying with the directives of the regulator (NCA) which insists that biometric data should be collected again using the app.

The app is supposed to complete a single process under five minutes, but it takes 15 minutes or more to complete one registration and that is what is delaying the process and causing the long queues, Mr Bartels said.

”We give regular feedback to the regulator on these challenges and we have documented all the feedback but we cannot do anything outside of their directive.

”It is important for the public to know that the bio data we are collecting is not sitting with us. It is for the state. We are only doing what we have been directed to do,” he added.

The other limitation of the app he noted is that, it is compatible with very few handheld devices so MTN and other telecoms operators are unable to recruit all of their agents across the country to help with the exercise because the app is not compliant with many of the devices being used by a lot of their agents.

“During the previous SIM registration our agents were able to help because the process did not involve any such app but this time we could acquire a limited number of compliant devices for some agents but not all”.

But in the current re-registration exercise, MTN Ghana is managing to run at least 200 registration points across the country to curb the long queues and they are trusting that the regulator will fix the challenges with the app to enable them do even more, he assured.

Since the exercise began in October, 2021, there have been long queues as people try to beat the deadline.

Many Ghanaians have been asking why the telecoms firms are collecting the biometric data after the National Identification Authority (NIA) has collected more than enough biometric data and stored them on the Ghana Card being used for the re-registration.

SIM card re-registration queue in Accra, Ghana

The collection of biometric data again by the telecoms companies is delaying the whole process and threatening to make lots of Ghanaian fail to meet the re-registration deadline.

Also, there have been concerns about why the biometric data of Ghanaians, which are already with the NIA are also being collected with the app designed by a private entity-Kelni GVG.

With the regards to the collection of biometric data by the telecoms companies, the Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication, Dr Kenneth Ashigbey explained that the link between the NCA and NIA does not seem to have been established yet.

That is why NCA is using a Kelni GVG app to collect the same biometric data that NIA has already collected, he added.

He said that telecoms operators made all the necessary input regarding how to make the process work better,

However he noted that the final decision still rests with NCA and the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization.

African Eye Report