SIM card registration: GH₵5 charge on consumers for using app unfair – expert says

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Human Rights Division

Following the decision by the Communication Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, on introduction of an app to aid in the registration of SIM cards at a charge of GH₵5 per registration, Director, Africa Digital Economy Forum (ADEF), Derek Laryea, has said that the charge is not fair on consumers.

According to him, some customers use multiple SIM cards, hence, slapping that cost on them is unfair.

“Considering the Internet of Things and other technology, if I have a SIM card at home today for my data, I have a SIM card in my television, if I have a SIM card in my watch, etc, … I have to pay to be able to register all of them, which is supposed to be a national exercise.

“I do not think it is fair, looking on the side of the consumer, unless we are saying that only rich people should be able to afford to register. So that is something that I think it should be looked at,” he said this in an interview with the B&FT.

Mr. Laryea added that the charge can be applied to the usage of the app after a meaningful deadline, where almost every citizen has access to the Ghana Card, which is the only required access card which enables registration of SIM cards.

Speaking on the timelines set by the communication ministry, he indicated that the timelines are pretty steep and they need to be looked at once more.

“Considering the fact that we spent close to one year on this exercise and yesterday the minister let us know that over 25 million cards are yet to be registered, that means that we have done about close to 50 percent in about 10 months.

“How are we assuming that we will be able to achieve the remaining 50 percent registration one month before she starts to introduce the conditions after August and September,” he asked.

App security

With regards to the security of the app, he said the app developer, security of the app, the transparency around the transfer of data, and the whole cyber security around the app need to be clearly spelt out.

Mr. Laryea believes the registration is a very huge activity, and people must be made to understand and know the security of their sensitive data that has been entered into the application.

He stated that SIM registration will sanitise the sector and will support a lot of user trust in the service; therefore, it needs to be done with every requisite tool that should be provided by the various agencies responsible to avoid burdening the consumer.

 NCA

The Deputy Director – Consumer and Corporate Affairs Division at the National Communication Authority (NCA), Kwame Gyan, responding to the usage of the app and the fee slapped against it, indicated that it was introduced to create convenience for customers.

Mr. Gyan advised that if the cost of using the app remains a problem, customers can still go to the various registration centres and have it done at no cost.

“The centres are still open, you can still walk through and can still get registered, there are agents still registering. The app is only an option given. I would have had a bit of a problem if the app was the only option, but it is only an additional option,” he said.

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