The Federal Government has approved the extension of licenses issued to telcos for NIN registration from an initial one year to five years. The extension was approved because of the satisfactory performance of the telcos since been awarded the initial license to carry out NIN registration.
This decision was reached at the 4th review meeting of the Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration. The meeting was presided over by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Pantami.
Approval was 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.Dr Isa Ali Pantami
The minister who appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise said the approval is a deliberate effort of the Federal Government to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents.
The Federal Government also approved the establishment of dedicated SIM Swap Centres for telcos. According to the FG, these centres must spread across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria.
To this end, he tasked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to work with telcos to “come up with a framework for the establishment of SIM Swap/Replacement Centres in each of the 774 LGAs in the country, beginning with critical and feasible locations.”
The minister also mandated telcos that already have service centres in important and critical locations 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.Isa Ali Pantami
Resolving the suspended sale and registration of SIMs
In a bid to resolve the issues that led to the suspension of SIM registration in the country, Dr Isa Ali Pantami mandated the Technical Committee to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised.
This, according to the minister, will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents that led to the suspension of the exercise.
Recall that in December, the NCC had suspended the sale and registration of new SIM cards to allow for an audit of the Subscriber Registration Database. According to NCC Director of Public Affairs, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde, the directive became imperative in light of the prevalence of pre-registered SIMs being used to coordinate unlawful and corrupt schemes in the country.
While it is yet unclear the outcome of the Subscriber Registration Database audit, a new SIM issuance strategy that is not compromised would nonetheless speed up the process of lifting the suspension on SIM registration.
The minister also established and tasked the Multi-Sectoral Adhoc Committee 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).