• Thursday, July 18, 2024
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NIN-SIM linkage: Telcos, FG may lose N66.74bn

SIM cards

Telecommunication companies (telcos)
and the Federal Government are at risk of losing an estimated N66.74bn to the barring of outgoing calls to 47 million Subscriber Identification Module cards that have not been linked to National Identification Numbers.

The Federal Government had on Monday ordered telcos to bar all outgoing calls of all SIM cards not yet linked with NIN effective April 4, 2022.

According to the government, over 125 million SIMs have had their NINs submitted for immediate linkage, verification and authentication.

However, the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has issued just over 78 million unique NINs till date, making a deficit of about 47 million.

On March 31, 2022, the government, through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy, reached a conclusion to suspend the
extension for the SIM-NIN linkage, after extending the deadline six times.

Data from the NCC show that the number of subscribers was around 198 million as at February 2022. The average number of SIMs linked to one NIN is about three to four, Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman of NCC, said in a report.

However, with the rising number of crimes enabled by SIM cards, experts say this new development would enable the government to curb insecurity and insurgencies by monitoring calls going in and out around the country.

Read also: Mobile money: Telcos lead as Nigeria, others processed $490bn

“Despite the Federal Government’s impending loss over this exercise, it has taken this final step to monitor the types of calls being made and the individuals making the calls. This is in a bid to curb the challenges surrounding insecurity,” Ajibola Olude, chief operating officer of Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria
(ATCON), told BusinessDay.

For telcos, this is expected to trigger another round of revenue losses, which will also result in loss of revenue for the Federal Government.

Using the industry average revenue per user of N1,420, as stated by ATCON, an estimated N66.74 billion would be lost if the 47 million SIM cards yet to be linked are barred.

“Also, the telcos are not left out of this. For every call made, there’s an estimated VAT of 7.5 percent deducted, which is a means of revenue for operators. With this latest development, telco
operators will not be able to generate revenues from the lines that are being barred from making and receiving calls,” Olude added.

Nigerian telecom operators had suffered losses in terms of subscribers and revenue to the suspension of registration of new SIM cards for four months.

After the suspension of the sale of new SIM cards in December 2020, the NCC mandated the SIM-NIN linkage to curb the rising number of crimes enabled by SIM cards. The initial deadline for the
NIN-SIM linkage was December 30, 2020.

The suspension led to a loss of about 20.83 million subscribers in the first half of 2021, and the revenue lost by telecom operators was N17.88 billion, according to data from NCC.