Nigeria gives nod for telcos to establish SIM Swap centres in 774 LGAS

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The Nigerian government has given approval for telcos to set up dedicated Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) swap centres in the 774 local government areas (LGAs) in the country.

The announcement was made, this Wednesday, in a statement jointly signed by the Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde, and Head of Corporate Communications at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Kayode Adegoke.

SIM swap means changing mobile SIM cards or operators. The service is offered by telcos to subscribers allowing them to keep their existing phone number and change between different SIM sizes or phone services providers.

The decision is part of other resolutions taken at the fourth ministerial task force meeting on the National Identification Number-SIM registration held in February. The review meeting is chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami.

Also, according to the statement, NIN enrolment agent licenses granted to mobile network operators have been extended from one to five years in consideration of their satisfactory performance as well as to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents.

Other resolutions taken at the meeting include the following:

i. 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

ii. 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, Mobile Network Operators (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 NCC working with the 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 Executive Vice Chairman 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 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 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.  

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