The Nigerian government has yielded to the calls by its citizens and some Non-Governmental Organisations to review the suspension of SIM activation and has approved the establishment of dedicated SIM Swap Centres across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria by the Mobile Network Operators.
In a statement jointly signed by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr Kayode Adegoke, Head, Corporate Communications at the Nigeria Identify Management Commission (NIMC), the federal government said the approval followed a review by the Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration, which held its 4th Review Meeting on Friday, February 26, 2021. The meeting was Chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami.
The Ministerial Task Force, also resolved that approval be given for the extension of the tenure of NIN Enrolment Agent Licenses for MNOs from 1 to 5 years in consideration of their satisfactory performance, subject to continuous monitoring. This is a deliberate effort of the Federal Government to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents.
Other resolutions are:
The Technical Committee was mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised. This will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents; and
A Multi-Sectoral Adhoc Committee was tasked to immediately complete the review of the processes for new SIM activations for legal residents staying in Nigeria for less than 24 months. The membership of the Committee was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
Also, MNOs that already have Service Centres in important and critical locations in LGAs, are expected to upgrade these Centres to a level where they can qualify as SIM Swap Centres in order to reduce the challenges associated with the SIM Swap/Replacement process for the citizens. The purpose is to bring SIM Swap Centres closer to Nigerians regardless of their location.
Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers Network (DEMS Volunteers Network), a non-governmental group of media practitioners had last week urged the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, to review the current ban on new registration or renewal of the Subscriber Identification Module (SIM).
The group in a statement signed by its the Ag. Director-General of DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa, believes that though, an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database is still ongoing, the ban is crippling both the telecom operators, subscribers and the Small and Medium Enterprises, whose businesses are enabled by telecom.
“With the successes recorded with regards to the National Identification Number, (NIN) and SIM card integration, the Minister should consider reviewing the suspension, to give room for those with NIN to register new lines or re-activate their lost SIM cards,” it said.