Foreigners living in Ghana or who intend to be in the country for more than 90 days are required to register their SIM cards for their mobile phones to be able to keep their numbers.
As mandated by the National Communications Authority (NCA), such foreigners also have up to March 31, 2022 to have their SIM cards re-registered.
Consequently, they are required to acquire their Ghana cards from the National Identification Authority (NIA) for the purpose.
In an interview, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr Ken Ashigbey, explained that the re-registration was for the SIM cards and not for persons or personalities.
“The exercise is not just for Ghanaians; it’s for SIM cards in use in Ghana, so whether they are for calls or data, they have to be registered, and that is the regulation. It does not matter who owns the cards — all that is required is a valid Ghana Card.
“For non-Ghanaians who are in the country for more than 90 days or visitors coming to stay for more than 90 days, they will have to acquire Ghana cards and then go through the registration exercise,” he told the Daily Graphic.
Dr Ashigbey said discussions were still ongoing for the final decision on how best to deal with people who will be in the country for a brief period but who require the use of SIM cards.
He explained that at the moment such persons who did not intend to stay beyond 90 days would need valid passports or ECOWAS cards to acquire and register SIM cards.
“For those who will not stay long, those who will be in the country for a short stay, which is less than 90 days, they can use their passports to register for SIM cards, as has been the norm all this while.
“We are still discussing what the best plan will be for non-Ghanaians who arrive for brief stays but who would still require SIM cards,” he added.
Exercise has improved
Dr Ashigbey also expressed satisfaction with the improved process for the SIM card re-registration exercise, after the initial challenges of slow app service and long queues at various registration points that left many people frustrated.
“I must say that I am very happy with how things are going on at the moment with the exercise. The speed has improved, the queues are no longer long as they used to be.
“We have put in place plans to conduct the exercise in some companies and churches and plans are also in place to take this approach to the regions. However, the feedback is that many people are calling at the various registration points without having completed the first phase.
“I would, therefore, encourage people to complete the first step, which is to dial *404# to follow the prompts to link their SIM cards with their Ghana cards. After that, they can go to the centres for the second phase. This will help the process move faster,” he said.
The NIA, also in an interview, indicated that even before the SIM card re-registration, foreigners living in Ghana were required to acquire the Ghana Card as a form of ID, so there was already an ongoing registration exercise for them.
Unlike the free registration for Ghanaians, foreigners who had to acquire the Ghana Card had to pay for it, it said.
“Before the SIM card re-registration, foreigners living in the country were required to secure Ghana cards and so there is an exercise at the head office for that.
“However, beyond that, we have agreed with the NCA and the mobile network operators (MNOs) that foreigners who are in the country for a short stay can register with their passports, while those who will be in for more than 90 days will have to put in applications for Ghana cards, which will be used to acquire SIM cards,” the Head of Corporate Affairs of the NIA, Abudu Abdul Ganiyu, explained.
Since October 2021, the SIM card re-registration exercise has been ongoing to register all SIM cards for both talk and data in use in the country.
The exercise, which the NCA says will end at the end of March, 2022, requires the use of the Ghana Card as the only valid form of ID.
Ghanaians can register up to 10 SIM cards, just as foreigners with resident permits, but visiting foreigners have a limit of three SIM cards.
According to the NCA, the re-registration exercise was to help develop and build a SIM database with integrity, boosting confidence and security for the use of services dependent on the communications network.
It is to help curb fraudulent and criminal activities, as well as secure SIM card-based transactions.
Also, after the exercise, the data will help determine, at every point in time, the accurate number of valid and accurate SIM cards on the networks.