Lagos and Abuja — The federal government has granted Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) approval to establish dedicated SIM swap centres in the 774 local government areas in the country.
SIM swap is a new initiative to allow subscribers to change from one network to another while retaining the same phone number.
The federal government also approved the extension of the tenure of the National Identity Number (NIN) enrolment agents' licences for MNOs from one to five years, having considered their performances so far satisfactory.
It, however, stated that their operations would be subjected to continuous monitoring.
A joint statement by the Director of Public Affairs of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde and the Head of Corporate Communications of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr. Kayode Adegoke, conveyed the government's decisions.
According to the statement, the approval was confirmed by the Ministerial Task Force on the NIN-SIM registration after its fourth review meeting in Abuja.
The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, with key stakeholders in attendance.
Pantami said the approval was aimed at simplifying the enrolment process for Nigerians and legal residents, adding that the technical committee is mandated to complete the development of a new SIM issuance strategy that cannot be compromised.
This, he added, will ensure that there is no repeat of the past process which was compromised through pre-registration by some agents.
Other resolutions taken at the meeting included tasking a multi-sectoral ad hoc committee to immediately complete the review of the processes for new SIM activations for legal residents staying in Nigeria for less than 24 months.
The membership of the committee was drawn from NCC, NIMC, Nigeria Immigration Service and the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
The statement added: "Furthermore, MNOs that already have service centres in important and critical locations in LGAs were mandated to upgrade these centres to a level where they can qualify as SIM swap centres in order to reduce the challenges associated with the SIM swap/replacement process for the citizens.
"The purpose is to bring SIM swap centres closer to Nigerians regardless of their location."
The minister tasked the NCC to work with NIMC and MNOs to come up with a framework for the establishment of SIM swap/replacement centres in each of the 774 LGAs in the country, beginning with critical and feasible locations.
The statement said while briefing the meeting on the outcome of the recent Senate investigative hearing on 5G deployment in Nigeria, the Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, extolled the minister for his presentation in which he dispelled fears about the public health and security implications of 5G, as well as making a case for the new technology in the country.
Following the briefing, he said, all stakeholders unanimously agreed on the need for the country to deploy 5G technology.
The minister also thanked Nigerians for their patience and compliance with the federal government's directive on the NIN-SIM registration.
He assured them of the government's commitment to continually take decisions aimed at easing the pains of the citizens on the NIN and SIM registration.