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Pakistan blocks 732K SIMs issued without biometrics, Nigeria registers 180M

Pakistan blocks 732K SIMs issued without biometrics, Nigeria registers 180M

Pakistan says it has blocked 732,000 SIM cards that were registered without the owners going through the required biometric verification process.

In Nigeria, the National Communication Commission (NCC) disclosed recently that at least 180 million SIMs are now successfully linked to the biometrics-backed national digital identification number (NIN).

Some Ghanaian lawmakers, on their part, are calling on the country’s authorities to include other ID documents, and not only the Ghana Card, as requirement for SIM card re-registration, which is ongoing.

Pakistan blocks illegal SIMs

The Nation reports that information about the SIM blockage was disclosed recently to the National Assembly Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication, by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA).

According to the report, the Parliamentary Committee expressed some misgivings over the action and directed the Chairmen of the PTA and the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to appear before them subsequently with a comprehensive plan on how they intended to handle the situation, going forward.

PTA representatives, during the meeting, briefed the committee on other measures that have been taken in order to reduce incidents of illegal SIM registration.

Pakistan made the move to have the biometric data of all SIM card buyers verified as part of efforts to stem crime and other phone-enabled fraudulent activities.

Multiple telco companies were recently fined by the PTA for failure to ensure users register their SIMs using biometrics.

180M SIMs linked to NIN in Nigeria

The NCC has observed that since the exercise to link SIMs to the NINs started, over 180 million lines have been registered, reports Vanguard.

This, the NCC Executive Vice Chairman Professor Umar Danbatta said, has been possible thanks to the registration of over 60 million Nigerians for the digital ID number by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

“The NIN-SIM link so far are 180 million subscribers. When you look at the number of SIMs tied to a NIN you have about 3-4, that translates to 180 million subscribers whose SIMs are linked to their NIN,” Vanguard quoted Danbatta as saying during a public inquiry in Abuja.

Nigeria launched the process to have phone users link their SIM cards to their NINs in December 2020. Authorities have said the move is aimed at checking security concerns and helping the federal government in policy planning for strategic development.

The current deadline for the SIM-NIN linkage in Nigeria is October 31, 2021.

Ghana MPs want other IDs used for SIM re-registration

Some lawmakers of Ghana’s minority group in Parliament have criticized the government for making the Ghana Card the only prerequisite for biometric re-registration of SIM cards.

The minority caucus on the Communication Committee is arguing that the country’s Legislative Instrument (211) clause (1) allows for other ID documents to be used for such exercises, writes GhanaWeb.

In a separate report by Joy Online, Communication Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said they were considering the request that other ID documents such as passports be used for the SIM re-registration.

She said although the law provides that only the biometric Ghana Card should be used as the official tool for identity verification, the government will see how things play out as there are ongoing discussions at the level of the ministry and with other stakeholders.

Ghana began biometric data collection for SIM card re-registration on October 1, and the exercise is expected to end on March 31, 2022.

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