It has taken a few postponements and deferrals but finally, Nigeria has made good its decision to bar telephones lines that are not linked to the National Identification Number, citing the spate of insecurity and a need to have a database of all Nigerians. In December 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission had asked telecom operators to block telephone lines that are not linked to a NIN. Since it began registering and providing those numbers to Nigerians, the agency in charge has registered 125 million sim cards before the barring of outgoing calls on non-NIN linked lines which commenced on April 1. It is expected that 72 million Nigerians are yet unregistered and will be affected as it kicks into place. Nigeria’s Minister of Communications Isa Patami however revealed that the NIN registration is an ongoing endeavour and telecommunication companies are to update their KYC database with the national identification number of subscribers that have them. Business Edge for Thursday features two guests to discuss this ban: Gbenga Adebayo who is the Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telcom Operators of Nigeria as well as Gospel Obele, the Chief Economist at Streetconomics Limited.
A lot of Nigerians affected by this ban claim that the timing wasn’t sufficient. Adebayo doesn’t entirely agree. “We’ve run this (announcement to register for NINs) for around 14 months…” He however acknowledges the challenges Nigerians faced in the early period. “Part of the problems faced… was the access to enrollment centres.” To solve this, the service providers were allowed to capture the required data on behalf of the government.
On his part, Gospel Obele is concerned that the approach of bans on outgoing calls could lead to a loss of revenue for millions of business owners who use their telephone lines to carry out their activities. “There are technologies that could have done this linking between NIN and telephone numbers. The impact on the economy is simple: the barring of calls and disconnect will lead to a loss of revenue, it will lead to a loss of productivity – in terms of access to the internet and other initiatives.”
Watch Business Edge in full above.
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