The Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has issued a directive to suspend the sales and registration of SIM cards in the country.
The decision was made to allow the execution of an audit of the Subscribers Registration Database.
In a statement released by the Director, Public Affairs of NCC, Dr Ikechukwu Adinde said the telecom companies are meant to follow the directives till the conclusion of the audit.
He also added that there might be some exemptions when necessary.
However, such would be granted by the Federal Government through the NCC.
Adinde warned that anyone who violates or refuses to comply with the new directives will have its licence revoked and go through other strict sanctioning.
According to him, the decision was taken to curb crime rates and non-compliance to the regulatory conditions.
“Preponderance of pre-registered SIMs with the attendant security implications associated with the use of same to facilitate criminal activities,” he said.
Furthermore, he maintained that the decision is in line with NCC’s plan to clampdown on the SIM card registration offenders.
He assured that mobile network operators would comply with the SIM registration procedures.
What decisions did NCC take before now?
About a month ago, the NCC approved an e-SIM trial for the workability of the m0bile networks.
That is, instead of the regular buying of SIM for a phone, the SIM will be embedded along with the phone system.
According to NCC, the trial will test 5, 000 e-SIMs by the 9Mobile and MTN network providers to ensure its feasibility.
ALSO READ: NCC Approves e-SIM Trial For MTN, 9mobile
However, the exercise might resolve the issue of SIM registration compliance after a long period.
In the space of five years, this is the third audit of subscribers registration and the second audit in two years.
In the last audit, MTN was charged N 1.04 trillion for not deactivating over 5 million SIMS that were illegally registered.
However, mobile operators still condone the use of certain unregistered SIMS in their network.
Effect on the telecom business
The decision might not have a tremendous effect on the companies in terms of sales of SIM cards as Nigeria has more than 200m mobile subscribers.
But then, if the telecom businesses will experience losses, it will be after the audit session.
Months back, NCC charged some persons for illegal sales and fraudulent registration of SIM cards.
The culprits were roadside SIM registration centres that were illegally selling registered SIM cards to people.
During the audit process, many cases like this would come up, which would be a big loss to the business.
For the roadside SIM Cards sellers, the period will be challenging for them as network companies are expected to close their networks for registration.
For the time being, this will result in unemployment for many of these sellers.