he Federal Government on Thursday lifted the ban it placed last year on the registration and activation of new Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards in the country.
The effective date for implementation, the government said is on Monday, 19th April 2021.
It however made National Identity Number (NIN) registration mandatory for registering new SIM cards.
All legal foreigners resident in Nigeria are to obtain a NIN by submitting valid resident/work permits at any National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) enrollment centre, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said on Thursday.
The latest development was contained in revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.
A statement signed by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Femi Adeluyi, reads in part: “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 Minister has also directed NCC and NIMC to ensure that the provisions of the policy are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.
“The policy includes 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. The possession of a NIN will be a prerequisite for each of these categories. For the Corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a Telecoms Master (at the minimum of an Executive Management level) to provide the operational Primary NIN representation.
The Telecoms Master will also be responsible for ensuring that the users provide their NINs to serve as a Secondary NIN.
“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point to point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred. In the event that a data only service is particular to individual use (eg home car tracking, WiFi, MiFi services, etc), the standard NIN registration process will be followed. A Telecoms Master will also be required for Corporates requiring IoT/M2M activations. The full details of the requirements for each class of service will be made available in due course.”
The government has mandated all persons in Nigeria who use mobile networks to register their SIM cards and link them with the NIN database, including foreigners.
Foreigners on tourist or visiting visas are to tender their international passports to acquire SIM cards for use during their stay in Nigeria, the guideline also sated.
If a visiting foreigner or tourist’s immigration status changes to a residency or work permit, he/she will be required to obtain a NIN and link it to the registered SIM.
The Commission, however, noted that a NIN does not confer citizenship on a foreigner, stressing that it only serves the purpose of identification.
The Minister of Communication, Dr Isa Pantami also thanked Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the Federal Government’s directive on the NIN-SIM registration exercise.
He reiterated government’s commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens with regard to issues related to NIN and SIM registration.
He said the Revised Policy was developed in early March 2021.
He also revealed that the final amendments to the revised Policy based on the directives of Mr President to make the use of NIN mandatory for all SIM registration were completed on the 14th of April, 2021.