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Social Democracy and Development Dialogue Forum – Africa (SDDDF-AFRICA) has called on the National Communications Authority (NCA) and Ministry of Communications to immediately halt the ongoing SIM re-registration exercise.
According to SDDDF-Africa, the exercise is being used by the telcos to create another biometric database or national identity register which, in the group’s view, is illegal.
SDDDF-Africa, in a statement, noted that the mandate to establish a national biometric register or database is the sole preserve of the National Identification Authority.
It said Section 2 subsection (1), (2) and (3) of the National Identity Register Act, 2008 (ACT 750) which specifically mandates NIA to create the register reads:
2. Establishment of National Identity Register
2 (1) There is established by this Act a register of individuals known as the National Identity Register.
2 (2) The Register shall be maintained as an electronic database.
2 (3) The purpose for which the Register is to be maintained is confined to matters of public interest.
Again, SDDDF-Africa noted that the current biometric SIM re-registration exercise being undertaken by Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only poses a major health risk but runs contrary to the law that establishes the National Identity Register (ACT 750) and a complete waste of public and individuals’ scarce resources – time, money, energy, etc., as well as endangering the safety of the biometric data of Ghanaians.
SDDDF-Africa argued that anyone with a mobile phone and a bearer of the Ghana card already has his biometrics captured by the NIA and stored in the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS).
“It is also important to note that NIA has the capacity to generate data of all customers of the various MNOs for identity verification and authentication purposes because the mobile phone numbers are linked to Ghana card PIN, linked to biometric data, linked to Ghana Post GPS etc., and, so far, NIA has collected over 16 million phone numbers which any user agency in need of can easily rely upon,” the statement said.
To this end, SDDDF-Africa wants an immediate halt to what it further described as “the sheer wastage of scarce resources and to end the needless misery that Ghanaians are being subjected to at the premises of the telecom companies.”