Dr. Isa Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy has instructed the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to lift the SIM registration ban.

This announcement comes after four months of halting SIM card registration in Nigeria. The NCC placed the ban to enable subscribers to link their National Identification Numbers (NIN) to their SIM cards. The NCC further instructed mobile operators to deactivate every SIM card not linked to NIN by December 30, 2020.

However, the country’s population and other factors hindered the actualization of the NCC’s instruction. Hence, forcing the NCC to move the date around twice.

The ban negatively impacted Nigerians affecting individuals, telcos, and business owners. Our recent report successfully captured the stories of some Nigerians that were affected by the ban.

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The Minister has now directed the NCC to allow SIM registration from April 19, 2021. All telcos can now resume SIM registration as long as they follow the guidelines of the 'Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration.' Telcos are also mandated to follow the mandatory NIN verification.

According to a statement from the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, “the Federal Government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN.

The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards.  The Revised Policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture.

The implementation of the Policy will commence on Monday, 19th of April 2021.  The issuance of New SIMs and other suspended activities will resume on the same date, as long as verification is done and the guidelines are fully adhered to. The Honorable Minister has also directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the Policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.”

The new policy covers guidelines on New SIM Acquisition and Activation, SIM Replacement, New SIM Activation for Corporates, and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), amongst others. But, NIN is a prerequisite for each of the categories.

This news is a ray of sunshine for Nigerians and business owners who have suffered because of the ban. They can now get new SIM’s for their personal use and businesses.