ID Card Rule Hurting SIM Replacement Rate, Telecom Operators Lament

Operators of telecommunications networks in the country say the means of identification rule imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is reducing the rate of successful sim replacement.

Representatives of some telecommunication networks made this complaint at the 81st Telecom Consumer Parliament organised by the NCC in Lagos.

“If you go to our centres today, Globacom, 9mobile, Airtel and MTN, the number of customers who successfully replace their sims have reduced. If it was about 80% success rate before, today it’s about 20%,” Chidi Onyeka, who represented Globacom at the event, said.

“Initially, we were accepting IDs that were not just state ID cards like school and work ID. NCC has written to us saying we can only accept valid IDs which are international passport, permanent voters card, driver’s license and national ID card. Apart from this, we can accept an affidavit from the court with your passport on it and a letter from your traditional ruler.

“This is only one of the things customers have to get. They have to tell us three frequently dialled numbers dialled five times in 30 days, the line must be properly registered and the customer must provide the last recharge.”

In response, the NCC consumer affairs bureau representative, Ephraim Nwokonneya, said the guidelines were reviewed to protect consumers from electronic fraud.

“The NCC consumer affairs bureau is an in-house consumer advocacy group that looks after the affairs of consumers in the industry and we do that on the basis of the regulations that are in place,” he said

“The recent experience has shown that some Nigerians are leveraging in the sim replacement guidelines to commit electronic fraud and in lieu of that, the commission reviewed the guidelines of sim replacement and it was developed with telecom operators and consumer advocacy groups.

“Regulations are meant to be reviewed and we have noticed that the issue of personal identification is creating a problem and reducing the ability of subscribers to replace their sims. That is one issue that we will be taking back on board in our bid to review the guidelines going forward.”

Telecom operators also urged subscribers to ignore widely circulated messages warning against picking calls from some numbers tagged “killer numbers”.

“I also receive those messages, we don’t have killer numbers on our network and I don’t think any operator has killer numbers. You can’t pick a call and die, it’s either the person was ill, bottom line is that we don’t have killer numbers on our networks,” said Odunayo Sanya, MTN representative at the event.

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