Telecom subscribers have given reasons why Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Ali Pantami and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) should consider a review of the current ban on new registration or renewal of Subscriber Identification Module, (SIM), widely known as SIM card.
According to them, the directive is taking toll on small businesses as communication is the integral part of their services.
Dr Pantami had in December 2020, directed the service providers to embark on another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database, wherein the Mobile Network Operators, (MNOs) were asked to suspend new sim card registrations and replacement of lost SIM cards.
Specifically, Mr. Sunday Ofoegwu, a businessman at computer Village Lagos, said his business has been going down ever since he lost his phone and has not been able to reactivate his SIM. He said he has gone to several places with his National Identification Number (NIN) and has not been able to reactivate his number adding that most of his customers knows him with. And this, he said has affected negatively in his business.
Ofoegwu urged the regulators to reconsider their stand as the directive is affecting not only him but a lot of other people.
Another subscriber, Ayodeji Aminu said since his phone was snatched away by robbers two weeks ago, it has been difficult to do his business. All efforts to reactivate his SIM has been proved abortive.
He called on the Federal Government to reconsider its position on activation and renewal of SIM cards to make things easy for the subscribers who lost their SIMs to robbers.
Corroborating, an advocacy group, the Digital Economy Media Support Volunteers Network (DEMS Volunteers Network), a non-governmental group of media practitioners, also urged Pantami to review ban on new registration or reactivation of SIM card.
In a press statement to Daily Sun, the Ag. Director-General of DEMS Volunteers, Prince Stan Okenwa, said his organisation recognised the genuine interest of the Minister to verify and ensure compliance by MNOs, with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM card Registration, as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Nigerian Communications Commission.
He, however, noted that with the successes recorded with regards the National Identification Number, (NIN) and SIM card integration, the Minister should consider reviewing the suspension, to give room for those with NIN to register new lines, or re-activate their lost SIM cards.
Okenwa said that the continued suspension of SIM registration, and/or renewal, has led to untold hardship on the part of individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises, (SMEs) whose means of livelihood are dependent on digital/online transactions.
“The other day, a man nearly committed suicide because, his business has almost gone down the drain. He lost his phone/SIM Card to a robbery incident and when he approached the telco, he was told ‘their hands are tied’. That is just one case out of many.
“What we are suggesting is that, the Minister issues a new directive for those with ‘credible means of identifications’, especially, NIN, to be able to register new SIM cards, or renew their old one and continue their businesses. We believe that building the digital economy is a collective effort, hence, we are making this appeal to the Minister”, Okenwa stressed.
“It is also important that the Federal Government recognises the fact that the MNOs’ businesses are mainly Foreign Investment driven, therefore, shutting them off from selling SIM cards to potential markets, may impact negatively on their earnings and directly affect the taxes they pay to the Nigerian government. This will be a minus to the digital economy drive. We want the Minister to look into this”, he said.