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Review ban on SIM replacement, DEMS Volunteers tell Minister

…Says policy crippling SMEs

The Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers (DEMS Volunteers), a non-governmental group of media practitioners, has urged the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), FNCS, FBCS, FIIM, MCPN, to review the current ban on new registration or renewal of Subscriber Identity Module or Subscriber Identification Module (SIM), widely known as a SIM card.

The Group which creates awareness on digital economy, recalls that the Honourable Minister in December 2020, directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to embark on another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database therein the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) were asked to suspend new Card registrations and replacement of lost Sim cards.

In a press statement issued today, Wednesday February 24, 2020, the Ag. Director-General of DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa said they recognised the genuine interest of the Minister

to verify and ensure compliance by MNOs with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission.

He, however, noted that with the successes recorded with regards the National Identification Number (NIN) and SIM card integration, the Minister should consider reviewing the suspension to give room for those with NIN to register new lines or re-activate their lost SIM cards.

Okenwa, who doubles as the publisher of Business Hilights, said that the continued suspension of SIM registration or/and renewal has led to untold hardship on the part of individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) whose means of livelihood are dependent on digital/online transactions.

“The other day, a man nearly committed sucide because his business has almost gone down the drain. He lost his phone/SIM Card to a robbery incident and when he approached the telco he was told ‘their hands are tied’. That is just one case out of many.

“What we are suggesting is that the Minister issues a new directive for those with ‘credible means of identifications’ especially NIN be able to register a new SIM Card or renew their old one and continue their businesses. We believe that building the digital economy is a collective effort hence we are making this appeal to the Minister”.

“It is also important that the Federal Government recognises the fact that the MNOs’ businesses are mainly Foreign Investment driven. Therefore, shutting them off from selling SIM cards to potential markets may impact their earnings and directly affect the taxes they pay to the Nigerian government. This will be a minus to the digital economy. We want the Minister to look into this”, he said.

The statement signed by the Ag. Director of Communications, Peter Oluka, also congratulated the Minister, Dr Pantami, and the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, over the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) which depicts Information and Communications Technology (ICT) as the fastest growing sector in Nigeria’s economy.

The sector recorded the highest growth rate of all the sectors in both the fourth quarter of 2020 (Q4 2020) and the entire year 2020.

This was based on the Q4 2020 Report on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) released on Thursday, the 18th of February 2021, by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).