NCC Insists on SIM-NIN Deadline

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March 28, 2024/CSL Research

Telecommunication companies are gearing up to disconnect more Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMs) that are not linked to National Identification Numbers (NIN) on Friday, 29 March 2024. Reuben Mouka, the Director of Public Policy at the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC), emphasized that there would be no changes to the deadline for the next phase of disconnection.

The NCC’s directive for disconnection is being implemented in stages, with the second phase scheduled for 29 March 2024, as previously announced. The initial phase occurred on 28 February 2024, while the third phase is planned for 15 April 2024. Mouka revealed that during the last deadline on 28 February 2024, approximately 40 million lines that were not linked to NIN were deactivated. MTN Nigeria however reported only about 4.2 million lines disconnected from its network following the 28 February deadline.

The NCC has reiterated its commitment to enforcing regulatory measures aimed at enhancing security and regulatory compliance within the telecommunications sector. The SIM-NIN linkage initiative is a crucial step towards improving the integrity of subscriber data and enhancing security measures within the telecommunications industry.

The NIN-SIM linkage policy was initially introduced by the Nigerian government in December 2020. This directive requires all telephone line users in Nigeria to associate their SIM cards with their NIN. In December of the previous year, the NCC issued a directive stipulating that all telecommunications operators in Nigeria, including major providers like MTN, Airtel, and Globacom among others, must enforce complete network barring on all phone lines for which subscribers have not provided their NINs by 28 February 2024.

Earlier last week, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) issued a warning to take legal action against the NCC if it did not revoke the directive instructing network providers to block the phone lines of individuals who have not linked their SIM cards to their NINs. They provided a logical ground on the necessity for further consultation and the establishment of an efficient process to enable Nigerians who have yet to link their SIM cards to their NINs to do so. Also asserting that it constitutes a severe infringement on citizens’ rights to freedom of expression, information, and privacy.

We opine that for SIM-NIN linkage to be effective, there is need for strategic collaboration between the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and NCC, aimed at simplifying the procedure for telecommunication subscribers nationwide. Also, an abrupt disconnection of these large subscribers base might have significant effect on telecom operators’ number, acknowledging the fact of rebounding from FX revaluation loss on their books as at the FY 2023.

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