The Federal Government has approved the request of Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to establish dedicated SIM swap centres across the 774 local governments of the country. This is to enable Nigerians whose SIMs have been lost or damaged to get replacement as the government’s suspension of new SIM activation subsists. New Telegraph reported that the telecom operators had lost 7.7 million subscriptions between December 2020 and January 2021 as subscribers were unable to retrieve their lost or damaged SIMs.
The Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration gave this approval at its 4th review meeting, which was chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami. According to a statement issued after the meeting by the Director of Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the Task Force also approved an extension of the tenure of NIN Enrolment Agent Licenses for the MNOs from one to five years in consideration of their satisfactory performance, subject to continuous monitoring.
“This is a deliberate effort of the Federal Government to simplify the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents. “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 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 statement read.
It added that the membership of the committee was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON). “Furthermore, 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.