An advocacy group, Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers Network, has appealed to the Minister of Telecommunications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, to review the current ban on new registration or renewal of Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.
The group in a press statement issued in Lagos said a press statement to Daily Sun, the acting Director-General of DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa, said his organisation recognised the genuine interest of the minister to verify and ensure compliance by mobile network operators with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM card Registration.
He, however, noted that with the successes recorded in 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.
The Minister, in December 2020, directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to embark on another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database and the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) were asked to suspend new card registrations and replacement of lost SIM cards to allow the audit to be done.
Okenwa said that the continued suspension of SIM registration, and/or renewal, has led to untold hardship to individuals and Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs) whose means of livelihood were dependent on digital/online transactions.
He said, “The other day, a man nearly committed suicide 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 to be able to register new SIM cards, 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,” Okenwa stressed.
He noted that the businesses of network operators were mainly foreign investment driven, saying shutting them off from selling SIM cards to potential markets, might impact negatively on their earnings and directly affect the taxes they pay to the government.