The NCC building

Nigeria will soon start the massive task of registering its over 80 million mobile phone subscribers – and the plan is to do so in a period of under 6 months.

Nigeria’ s SIM registration programme is expected to get underway within weeks, after suffering delays over the past few years. The most recent delay was caused when there was resistance to the budget proposed for the project.  However, the National Assembly has now passed the N6.1 billion (USD 0.04 billion) budget.

The country’ s main operators have expressed concern about the complexity of the project and the short timeframe for registrations to be completed.

During a meeting with Nigeria’ s Communications Commission (NCC) in December, stakeholders MTN, Airtel, Etisalat, NATCOMS and ALTON raised several concerns, which the NCC either addressed or said would be considered. These included the storage of the data collected, which will include fingerprints, questions about the registration of foreign SIM cards, and concerns that the public were uninformed about how and why they should register.

On this point, the NCC noted: “ There will be sustained and increased media campaign. The Commission has placed adverts in the newspaper and TV, and these will increase in frequency. These adverts will inform the public on all the relevant information. This will be a joint effort by the Commission and the Service Providers.”

In line with this, the NCC will hold a forum to inform the public about the process at Milipat Hotel in Nsukka tomorrow, 19 January.

The NCC added: “ It is a practice all over the world; and it will greatly curtail criminal activities perpetrated through telecommunication.The exercise was delayed due to the late passage of the Commission’ s budget for the project. Operators have begun the exercise of registration.

The Commission will announce the commencement date for the six month registration period for existing SIM cards.

This was widely expected to begin this month, and should commence soon.

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