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NCC, Telcos spent N46.1bn on SIM card registration in five years

By on August 21, 2015

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the four operators of Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM), spent about N46.1 billion on SIM card registration from 2010 to 2015, THISDAY investigation has revealed.
The breakdown of the figure showed that while NCC spent N6.1 billion, the four GSM operators, MTN, Globacom, Airtel and Etisalat, collectively spent N40 billion, with each operator spending about N10 billion.

As at 2013, MTN said it spent N5 billion on SIM card registration, but explained that the amount rose to over N10 billion in the last few weeks, since the registration exercise is ongoing.

The other three GSM operators, also said they had so far spent huge amount of
money, running into billions of naira on SIM card registration, but they are yet to release the exact amount spent so far.

It is however estimated that each of the three operators might have spent close to or slightly above the N10 billion spent by MTN, since they all started the registration exercise at the same time in 2010, as directed by the NCC, thus bringing the estimated amount spent by the four GSM operators on SIM card registration to about N40 billion to date.

NCC, on its part, spent N6.1 billion on SIM card registration, between March 2011 to September 2011, which brings the total amount spent by NCC and GSM operators on SIM card registration to about N46.1 billion within a period of five years.

Following the need to have a central database for all telecommunication subscribers in the country, coupled with the need to identify all telecoms subscribers through a valid registration process, with a view to addressing the situation where lives were threatened and people kidnapped through the use of mobile phones for communication, the NCC compelled all telecoms operators to register their subscribers.

Although the registration exercise among telecoms operators commenced in 2010, NCC on March 2011, commenced another SIM card registration on subscribers, through its consultants across the six geopolitical zones of the country, after it got approval of N6.1 billion from the National Assembly, to commence the registration exercise.

NCC became involved in the registration exercise, following the perceived sluggishness in the registration exercise on the part of the telecommunications operators, who could not meet up with the initial six months deadline given to them by the NCC, to conclude the registration exercise.

NCC, however revealed recently that to date, more than 120 million SIM cards have been registered and transmitted to the central database by the operators, but lamented that out of the number, 45 per cent of the SIM cards was deemed invalid for reasons of invalid portrait image, invalid fingerprints, and incorrect/inaccurate demographic data such as name, address, among others.

According to expert opinion, the irregularities in registering subscribers by different agents from the operators and the NCC, must have led to situation where 45 per cent of the 120 million registered SIM cards, was declared invalid.

They blamed they situation on multiple registrations, and wondered by telecoms operators were not able to register subscribers once and synchronise the data obtained with the central database.