Pressure on unregistered SIM owners has intensified after a new ruling from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC has issuing a directive mandating mobile network operators to deactivate all SIM cards which are not registered with a valid National Identification Number (NIN) within the next two weeks.
Readers will be aware that an earlier order from the NCC directed all operators, including major players such as MTN and Airtel, to completely suspend the sale and registration of new SIM cards pending the completion of a thorough audit of Nigeria’s Subscribers Registration Database.
Now, according to Nigerian website technext, the NCC is insisting that all mobile subscribers must update their SIM registration records by submitting valid National Identification Number (NIN) information before the end of December.
This means that all SIM cards without updated NIN registrations before the stipulated deadline will be disconnected from the mobile networks. In addition a Ministerial Task Force has been set up to oversee compliance. Operators that ignore the order could be heavily sanctioned and might even see their licences withdrawn.
But will this really happen? As technext points out there are over 200 million mobile subscriptions in Nigeria and only an estimated 42 million people possess a National Identification Number. This means three quarters of all subscriptions need to be registered in a matter of weeks, a mandate it describes as impractical, especially at a time when a pandemic is ongoing.