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FG Approves Establishment of SIM Swap Centres by MNOs, Extension of Enrolment Licence Tenure

…Mr President commends achievement recorded so far

The Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration held its 4th Review Meeting on Friday, February 26, 2021. The meeting was Chaired by the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM.

Key stakeholders joined the Honourable Minister at the meeting. They included the EVC/CEO of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), DG/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), DG/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON). Others included the NCC Executive Commissioners for Technical Services and Stakeholder Management, MD/CEOs of MTN, Airtel, EMTS (9Mobile), NTEL, Spectranet and SMILE, as well as the COO of Glo.

A number of resolutions were taken at the meeting, including the following:

i. Approval was given to MNOs for the establishment of dedicated SIM Swap Centres across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Nigeria;

ii. 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. This is a deliberate effort of the Federal Government to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents;

iii. The Technical Committee was mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised. This will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process that was compromised through pre-registration by some agents; and

iv. A Multi-Sectoral Adhoc Committee was tasked 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).

Furthermore, MNOs that already have Service Centres in important and critical locations in LGAs, are expected 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.

The Minister also tasked the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), working with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and MNOs, 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 EVC of NCC, Prof Danbatta, briefed the meeting on the outcome of the Senate Investigative Hearing on 5G Deployment in Nigeria, which took place on February 25, 2021. He extolled the Honourable Minister for making an eloquent presentation to dispel fears about the public health and security implications of 5G, as well as making a case for this new technology in the country. All stakeholders agreed on the need for the country to deploy 5G technology.

President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR was briefed on the activities of the Ministerial Task Force. He strongly commended the achievement recorded so far and urged the Minister and other stakeholders to maintain the tempo.

The Honourable Minister also appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise, which has many benefits to the country and its citizens. He assured of government’s commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.

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