After months of an embargo on the activation of new SIM cards, as well as swap/replacement of existing lines, the Federal Government has announced that new SIM registrations and replacement will resume on the 19th of April, 2021.
Both new SIM activations and existing SIM replacements will require a national identification number, NIN, in line with the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.
Below are key excerpts from the official statement from the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy.
The Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003, Section 23(a), specifies the role of the Minister to include the formulation, determination and monitoring of the general policy for the communications sector.
In line with this, on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, the Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, FNCS, FBCS, FIIM coordinated and led the development of a Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration in collaboration with all other stakeholders. An earlier Policy was approved on the 4th of February 2020, while the Revised Policy was developed in early March 2021. The final amendments to the revised Policy based on the directives of Mr President to make the use of NIN mandatory for all SIM registration were completed yesterday, 14th of April, 2021.
Dr Pantami also presented the Revised Policy to His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR on Friday, 26th of March, 2021. Mr President made further improvements and endorsed it for implementation. Mr President also commended the Honourable Minister for his commitment in carrying out the responsibility of developing the digital economy sector, including championing the NIN-SIM registration process.
The Policy includes Guidelines on New SIM Acquisition and Activation, SIM Replacement, New SIM Activation for Corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), amongst others. The possession of a National Identity number will be a prerequisite for each of these categories. For the Corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a Telecoms Master (at the minimum of an Executive Management level) to provide the operational Primary NIN representation. The Telecoms Master will also be responsible to ensuring that the users provide their NINs to serve as a Secondary NIN.
For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point to point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred. In the event that a data only service is particular to individual use (eg home car tracking, WiFi, MiFi services, etc), the standard NIN registration process will be followed. A Telecoms Master will also be required for Corporates requiring IoT/M2M activations. The full details of the requirements for each class of service will be made available in due course.
The implementation of the Policy will commence on Monday, 19th of April 2021. The issuance of New SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date, as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to. The Honourable Minister has also directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the Policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.