Member of Parliament for the Bunkpurungu constituency in the North East region, Abed-Nego Azumah Bandim has called on the National Communications Authority (NCA) to purge itself from being a conveyor belt, operating at the dictates of the minister for Communications and Digitalisation and function as independently a regulator according to its mandate.
According to him, it is important for the NCA to cease being a rubber stamp regulator and assert its regulatory authority to curtail the current confusions associated with the ongoing sim-card re-registration exercise saying “quite clearly, the inability of the NCA to assert its mandate is partly to blame for the current mess with the SIM card re-registration exercise’’.
The Bunkpurungu lawmaker blamed the NCA’s lack of asserting its regulatory functions due political control by the sector minister and urged the authority to wean itself to attain its goal of becoming a research driven world class regulator.
“If the NCA really wants to achieve its aim of becoming a world-class regulator, then it must first wean itself off political control and the egos of the sector minister, and effectively regulate the communication industry using evidence-based research. As a former chief manager at the NCA, I know that this is an authority staffed by professionals who would only act in ways that promote the larger interest of Ghanaians’’ he stated.
Mr Abed-Nego Azumah Bandim who previously worked as a chief manager at the NCA in a press release issued on Monday September 5, 2022 alleged that the level of political influence at the authority is so endemic to the extent that the Chamber of Telecommunications now directs concerned citizens to petition the sector minister.
“The usurpation of the NCA’s powers by the minister has become so bad that today, even the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunication is urging Ghanaians who have concerns about the SIM card registration to petition the minister and not necessarily the NCA. It’s an affront to the mandate of the NCA to allow itself to become a rubber stamp regulator’’ the statement noted.
Even though the MP admit government can issue policy directives for implementation through the NCA, he said evidences over the past few years indicates that the authority has become a poodle for the sector minister in implementing draconian government policies in the communication sector.
The former NCA staffer asserted that the authority is well aware of the difficulties many Ghanaians are going through to acquire the Ghana card but went ahead to issue such punitive directives to satisfy the minister’s ego.
Explaining why the absence of long queues at registration centres following the extension of registration period to September 30, 2022, the MP said, “people who had continuously absented themselves from work and abandoned their businesses to go and join long queues to register, only had a relief or breathing space’’ and not the usual attitude of waiting for the last minute.
Mr Azumah Bandim recommended the NCA to include passport and voter’s ID card as means of identification to enable Ghanaians who do not have the Ghana card yet to register their SIM Cards.
He explained that “those who use the passport or voter’s ID will then be mandated to update their records upon acquiring the Ghana card’’.
The MP commended the introduction of the GH SIM Card Registration App describing it as “a commendable effort’’ but noted the cost of using the App is quite exorbitant and exploitative and should be reduced’’.
He has therefore urged the National Communications Authority to immediately withdraw the recently announced draconian punitive measures on SIM card re-registrations.
The National Communications Authority Act, 2008 (Act 769) mandates the authority as the central body to license and regulate communications activities and services in the country.