MTN holds investor call on SIM registration as reactions trail NCC’s NIN order

Reactions have continued to trail the order given by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) asking all telecommunication service providers to ask its subscribers to provide their National Identification Number (NIN) within two weeks. This came after NCC’s meeting with industry stakeholders, including the National Information Technology Development Agency, the National Identity Management Commission, as well as the management teams from the various mobile network providers.

According to the NCC, the need to consolidate the achievements of last year’s SIM registration audit and improve on performance as well as bring sanity to the sector formed the basis of discussion at the meeting held after the order was given, as all stakeholders agreed that urgent drastic measures have now become inevitable to improve the integrity and transparency of the SIM registration process.

After the meeting, it gave mobile operators two weeks, starting from 16 December to 30 December, to update SIM registration records. All SIMs without valid national identity numbers are to be blocked from the networks.

It is on this background that the House of Representatives has urged the NCC, to extend its ultimatum to block phone numbers without NIN by 10 weeks.

The lawmakers took the decision while adopting a motion brought under matters of urgent national importance by the minority leader, Ndudi Elumelu.

Emphasising the need for the extension, Elumelu said two weeks was too little for the over 200 million Nigerians, especially considering the Christmas period.

“As laudable as the idea behind the policy may seem, the timing is very wrong because Nigerians have not been properly sensitized, as only a few educated persons who bother to read the dailies might have heard about this instructions.

“Therefore trying to enforce this policy in a period where most Nigerians are gearing up for Christmas festivities may lead to stampede in the process of rushing to get registered which could lead to unnecessary death and injuries,” he said.

The lawmaker noted: “If the NCC is not urgently called to halt their plans there may be unnecessary panic in the country, which may lead to exploitation of vulnerable Nigerian thereby causing more pains in an already pathetic situation, hence the need to urgently wade into this impending crisis.”

In view of all these, Mobile operator, MTN plans to give investors greater clarity on the meeting it held with Nigerian telecoms regulators earlier this week, as it is concerned that NCC, ordering network operators to suspend the sale and activation of new SIM cards is a move that has got MTN’s investors worried about the company’s prospects in its biggest market, which is Nigeria, adding that, shares in MTN fell 10% a day after the announcement was made.

Therefore, this week’s teleconference intends to provide additional context to the market on this issue, as well as the NCC’s most recent announcement,” the group said in a statement.

Meanwhile, there are some rays of hope for MTN subscribers as the current and incoming CEOs of MTN Nigeria, Ferdi Moolman and Karl Toriola, have assured MTN users that, “MTN could complete Nigerian SIM card order within six months, while a ban on sales of new SIM cards is unlikely to last long”.

They said this during a call to brief investors on the change after Nigerian regulators made the announcement earlier this week, giving the industry a two-week deadline to complete the task.


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