Nigeria suspends sale, registration, activation of new SIM cards

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The Nigerian government has directed the country’s mobile network operators to suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards.

The move is expected to impact SA’s MTN, which is the leading mobile network operator (MNO) in the west African country. Other MNOs in Nigeria include Airtel and Globacom.

In a statement, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says: “In line with the federal government desire to consolidate the achievement of the SIM card registration exercise of September 2019, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim (Pantami), has directed the NCC to embark on another audit of the subscriber registration database again.”

The NCC notes the objective of the audit exercise is 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 commission.

“Accordingly, mobile network operators are hereby directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards until the audit exercise is concluded, and government has conveyed the new direction.”

However, the regulator says where it is absolutely necessary, exemption may be granted in writing by the commission following approval from the federal government.

“MNOs are to please note that non-compliance with this directive will be met with strict sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence.

“As the minister has earlier directed in January 2020, all citizens are urged to immediately secure digital identification from the National Identity Management Commission and submit it to the network operators,” it concludes.

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