New SIM card registrations with biometric ID number resume in Nigeria

GSMA considers digital ID role of telecoms in report

smartphone biometric identity and document verification

Nigeria’s federal government has lifted a ban on the registration of new SIM cards, with the biometrics-based national identification number (NIN) now a prerequisite for the exercise, the Nigerian Tribune reports.

The country put a halt on the registration of new SIM cards back in December, saying it wanted to carry out an audit of the subscriber registration database and ensure compliance by mobile telephone operators to standard and quality norms put in place by the Digital Economy Ministry, including biometric SIM linkage. The federal government had also evoked security concerns to justify the move.

A statement by Femi Adeluyi, technical assistant in charge of Information Technology to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, said Nigerians can once again register new SIM cards with their biometrics in line with a revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration, according to many local reports.

The policy also includes guidelines on new SIM acquisition and activation, SIM replacement, new SIM activation for corporate bodies and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (loT/M2M) devices.

The Tribune reports that final amendments to the revised SIM registration policy, which was developed last month, were validated during a meeting of stakeholders on April 14. The directive to make the NIN mandatory for the SIM registration process is said to have been given by President Muhammadu Buhari after reviewing and making improvements to the policy, the report adds.

According to the statement by Adeluyi, the implementation of the new policy as well as the issuance of new SIM cards and other suspended activities will resume April 19, Premium Times mentioned.

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) have also been instructed to ensure that all prescribed measures relating to the SIM registration process are strictly adhered to.

The federal government said the revised policy is part of its efforts of accompanying all Nigerians and legal residents in securing the NIN. The move, it added, will also make sure that telecoms operators conform to the required standards of biometric capture for the NIN issuance, according to Proshare.

The ban on SIM registration has been lifted at a time when the NIN-SIM linkage process, instituted in December, is ongoing. Early this month, the deadline for the linkage was extended to May 6 (from April 6) with the federal government announcing that 51 million Nigerians had so far procured the digital ID number.

Study examines roles of MNOs in SIM registration ID verification

A study carried out by the Digital Identity program of GSMA, the global association working for the interest of mobile telecoms operators (MNOs), has highlighted the importance of digital ID verification for customer onboarding and other KYC processes for MNOs.

The research found that this can bring about big commercial benefits and opportunities to the telcos where digital ID ecosystems have been properly built and sufficiently supported by both the private and public sectors, a report summarizing the study notes.

The study was carried out in 31 mainly low and middle-income countries, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and North Africa and, Latin America. The focus was on digital ID verification for SIM registration and mobile money KYC, with particular attention on ecosystems, benefits, costs, opportunities, threats of ID verification for MNOs, and how these processes were adjusted to respond to the COVID pandemic.

The study also makes recommendations to MNOs and government policy formulators in order to improve digital ID ecosystems.

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