Nigeria requires partial block on SIMs not linked to digital ID
Nigerians who have yet to link their SIM cards to their National Identity Numbers (NINs) will no longer be able to make telephone calls if mobile network operators comply with a request from the authorities. This appears to be a softening of the threat for a general block for unregistered SIMs.
A joint statement from the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) and National Communications Commission (NCC) says there will be no more deadline extensions for the digital ID linkage, and that President Muhammadu Buhari has allowed the implementation of the partial block:
“Outgoing calls will subsequently be barred for telephone lines that have not complied with the NIN-SIM linkage Policy from the 4th of April, 2022. Subscribers of such lines are hereby advised to link their SIMs to their NINs before the Telcos can lift the restriction on their lines.
“Affected individuals are hereby advised to register for their NINs at designated centers and thereafter link the NINs to their SIMs through the channels provided by NIMC and the Telcos, including the NIMC mobile App.”
The original deadline was the end of December 2020. Even this latest deadline of 31 March 2022 was extended until 4 April, the tenth extension, reports the Premium Times, as the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy urged NIMC to offer round-the-clock digital ID registrations for the final push.
The joint statement notes that 78 million people have now registered for a NIN and 125 million SIM cards have been linked to NINs.
A representative from mobile network operator MTN Nigeria recently said that the cancellation of subscribers could be “quite catastrophic”, but this block to making outgoing calls may have less of an impact on subscribers and telcos.
Reactions on social media despair at multiple aspects of the move, including doubts over the improvements to security, faults with the NIMC app and issues around the delay between registering for and receiving the national digital identity.