Nigerian mobile network operators (MNOs) are rolling out SIM Swap Centres in each Local Government under the mandatory SIM-NIN integration prgramme for phone users in the country.
This follows a Federal Government approval for the MNOs to spread a nationwide SIM Swap Centre blanket across Local Governments under plans to bring SIM swap services closer to Nigerians, the Federal telecoms and identity supervision agencies announced this morning in a statement made available to Technology Times.
The SIM Swap Centre rollout across the 774 Local Governments, starting with critical and feasible locations, is one of the highlights of the resolutions of the fourth review meeting of the Ministerial Task Force on NIN-SIM registration, held Friday, February 26, and chaired by Dr. Isa Pantami, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy.
According to the joint statement issued by Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Mr. Kayode Adegoke, Head, Corporate Communications, Nigeria Identify Management Commission, the meeting also resolved as follows:
ii. Approval was given for the extension of the tenure of NIN Enrolment Agent Licenses for 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;
iii. 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
iv. 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).
The government nod given MNOs will “bring SIM Swap Centres closer to Nigerians regardless of their location” while those “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.”
Under the plan, NCC and NIMC are to develop a framework for the establishment of SIM Swap/Replacement Centres in every Nigerian Local Government “beginning with critical and feasible locations”, according to the Minister.
Professor Umar Danbatta, Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, who briefed the meeting on the outcome of the Senate Investigative Hearing on 5G Deployment in Nigeria held February 25, this year commended 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, who was also briefed on the activities of the Ministerial Task Force “strongly commended the achievement recorded so far and urged the Minister and other stakeholders to maintain the tempo”, the statement says.
Pantami who appreciated Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise, which he says holds many benefits for Nigeria and Nigerians, “assured of government’s commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.”
Other key stakeholders at the meeting included DG/CEO of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC); DG/CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA); Comptroller-General, Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) and Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
Others include the NCC Executive Commissioners for Technical Services and Stakeholder Management, MD/CEOs of MTN, Airtel, EMTS (9Mobile), NTEL, Spectranet, Smile and COO of Glo.