The decision to begin registration of phone subscribers in Nigeria under the SIM Registration programme of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was initiated by security agencies, the nation’s telecoms watchdog has said.
“Sometime in early 2008, security agencies approached the Commission to assist in resolving crimes perpetrated through the use of phones in which criminal elements cannot be identified with the number of the phones that they used”, according to a post-mortem report on the phone user database acquisition programme by NCC.
This is amid a new report by NCC revealing that a total of 11,320 and 11,110 outgoing and incoming porting activities were recorded among the big four GSM network operators as at July, this year.
Meanwhile NCC says that SIM registration was meant to close a gap in the evolution of the Nigerian mobile telephony landscape where subscribers were initially allocated lines without capturing their personal details.
“Since the launch of GSM services in Nigeria in 2001, SIM cards were offered to subscribers without the requirement to provide proper identification by the users”, NCC says.
The telecoms regulator and security agencies reckon that there will no hiding place for criminals in Nigeria using mobile phones to perpetrate crimes as they can now be tracked with the unique SIM cards. [blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”Dr Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman and CEO of NCC”]“Sometime in early 2008, security agencies approached the Commission to assist in resolving crimes perpetrated through the use of phones in which criminal elements cannot be identified with the number of the phones that they used”[/blockquote]
“A SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) Card is the card issued by mobile phone operators which provides the individual user with the appropriate number recognized by that network. A subscriber inserts the card into his or her mobile phone to access the mobile phone network”, NCC explains.
The telecoms regulators outlines four key objectives of SIM Registration to include the following:
To assist security agencies in resolving crimes and by extension to enhance the security of the state.
To facilitate the collation of data by the Commission about phone usage in Nigeria.
To enable operators to have a predictable profile about the users in their networks.
To enable the commission to effectively implement other value added services like Number Portability among others.
Prior to the official launch of SIM registration, NCC said that it held a consultative forum involving various telecoms operators, consumer groups, security agencies, telecoms associations, dealers, the Nigerian Identity Management Commission, National Population Commission, National Census Commission, the media, among others.
“All the participants agreed that it is appropriate and necessary to register phone users in the country. Another committee was then set up to further look at the details of the implementation of the registration programme and submit its recommendations the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)”, the telecoms regulator said.
Upon reviewing the recommendations of the committee, the Board of the NCC approved the registration of all phone subscribers in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the agency added.
“This commenced on March 28, 2011, when the official flag off of the registration of all SIM cards was performed by Dr. Eugene Juwah, the Executive Vice Chairman of the Nigerian Communications Commission in Abuja.
The Registration of existing SIM cards officially ended in January 2012. However, Network Operators will continue to register new SIM cards”, the regulator added.
“On completion of the validation, harmonization and scrubbing of the records of all registered SIM cards, Operators will be authorized to disconnect unregistered SIM cards from the networks.”
In a related development, Etisalat Nigeria recorded the relatively largest porting gains with 4,791 incoming porting as at July this year when a total of 11,320 incoming porting was recorded by NCC.
Within the same period, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom and MTN Nigeria recorded 3,312; 1,965 and 1,252 incoming porting respectively.
On the flip side, of the 11,110 outgoing porting recorded within the same period, MTN Nigeria accounted for the relatively biggest loss with 4,924 outgoing porting.
Etisalat Nigeria, Globacom and Airtel Nigeria accounted for 2,634; 1,922 and 1,630 outgoing porting respectively, according to the telecoms regulator.