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At last, FG lifts ban on new SIM access effective Monday April 19

After barely four months of digital lockout, from Monday, April 19, 2021, telecoms networks are free to resume instant registration and activation of new subscriber identification module (SIM) card for both individuals and corporates.

This followed the approval by President Muhammadu Buhari on the new Policy Guidelines on New SIM Acquisition and Activation, SIM Replacement, New SIM Activation for Corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), amongst others.

However, the new guideline said “For individuals and corporates, presentation of national identity number (NIN) is a prerequisite for SIM registration and activation.

Business Hilights gathered that this was  the outcome of the review meeting of the Ministerial Task Force (MTF) on the NIN-SIM registration according to a press statement by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Femi Adeluyi.

He stated that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami coordinated and led the development of a Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration in collaboration with all other stakeholders which was completed April 14th, 2021.

The new policy states that issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date (April 19th), as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to. The minister has directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the Policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.

“For the Corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a Telecoms Master (at the minimum of an Executive Management level) to provide the operational Primary NIN representation. The Telecoms Master will also be responsible to ensuring that the users provide their NINs to serve as a Secondary NIN.

“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point to point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.

“In the event that a data only service is particular to individual use (eg home car tracking, WiFi, MiFi services, etc), the standard NIN registration process will be followed. “A Telecoms Master will also be required for Corporates requiring IoT/M2M activations. The full details of the requirements for each class of service will be made available in due course.

According to the statement, it was in line with the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, Section 23(a), which specifies the role of the Minister to include the formulation, determination and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector.

It stated that significant progress has been made in the NIN registration process across the country. “Nonetheless, the Federal Government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN.

“The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards. The Revised Policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture.

“The Guidelines in the Policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in National interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource. Citizens and legal residents are encouraged to bear with the government as the process has been developed in the best interest of the country. “Dr. Pantami wishes to thank Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise. He reiterated government’s commitment to continually taking decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration, the statement summed.