The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that SIM cards not linked to National Identity Numbers (NIN) will be deactivated by the end of February, according to the NCC Executive Vice Chairman/Chief Executive Officer, Aminu Maida. In a meeting with journalists on February 6, Mr. Maida emphasized that SIMs without NIN would cease to function by the end of the month.
The mandatory linkage between SIM cards and NINs commenced in December 2020, following the government’s directive to telecommunications companies to block calls from unregistered and unlinked NINs. The initiative aimed to enhance security measures by combating activities of bandits and terrorists who engage in the kidnapping and killing of innocent individuals. Despite deadline extensions, a significant number of phone lines remain unlinked.
Addressing the issue, Mr. Maida acknowledged the persistent challenge of pre-registered or illegally registered SIM cards. He highlighted the 2021 policy to link NINs with SIMs, believing it would address the problem, but encountered criticism within the value chain due to identified loopholes.
The NCC plans to enforce accountability among telecom service providers for customer service delivery. Mr. Maida stressed the adoption of a data-driven approach in decision-making to minimize subjectivity and improve the industry. The Commission aims to ensure licensees fulfill their obligations to consumers who expect a certain level of service quality.
Highlighting the importance of consumer interests, Mr. Maida stated, “We need to put smiles back on the faces of consumers. NCC is clear on this; we need to protect the interests of consumers.” Simultaneously, the Commission will monitor the activities of licensed operators to ensure compliance, striking a balance between consumer protection and safeguarding the interests of the industry and the government.
Mr. Maida concluded by outlining the Commission’s focus on the primary stakeholders – consumers, the industry, and licensees. Emphasizing the role of internet service providers, submarine-landed cable companies, and government, he reiterated the commitment to maintaining a fair and balanced regulatory approach in the telecommunications sector.