MTN faces new headwinds as Nigeria issues deadline for SIM-NIN integration: Report

*The NCC directive enables the telecom industry to play a meaningful role in driving the solution for this issue ─Ferdi Moolman, Chief Executive Officer of MTN Nigeria

Alexander Davis | ConsumerConnect

African’s mobile giant MTN traded 7.32 percent lower lower at R61.44 on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Thursday, December 17, 2020, following reports that the Nigerian authorities had given mobile operators in the country a tight deadline of two weeks to block all Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards not previously registered with the National Identity Numbers (NINs).

ConsumerConnect reports the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Tuesday had told telecom network operators in that country to discontinue registration of new SIMs, and that subscribers were required to provide a valid NIN to update SIM registration records between yesterday and December 30.

The telecommunication industry regulator NCC said all SIMs without NINs were to be blocked from the networks after the deadline, and that a ministerial task force comprising Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim, Honourable Minister for Communications and Digital Minister and all the chief executives as members was to monitor compliance by all networks.

The regulator said: “Violations of this directive will be met by stiff sanctions, including the possibility of withdrawal of operating licence.”

MTN Nigeria currently has 75 million consumers, and is the biggest mobile operator in that country, agency report stated.

Ferdi Moolman, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), MTN Nigeria, has told an investor conference that the directive meant neither the company nor its competitors could register new subscribers, suggesting that market share should remain relatively stable.

Moolman stated: “The momentum to achieve double-digit service revenue growth remains intact. The impact on earnings is difficult to estimate at this point in time.

The MTN chief explained “the directive enabled the industry, including MTN, to play a meaningful role in driving the solution for this issue.”

In regard to the two-week timeline would be extended, he stated the authorities had set up a task team which would get together within the next two weeks to understand the industry’s challenges.

According to him, “all indications are that it would need to be extended, given the complexity and the size of the work that needs to be done.”

The NIN is an 11-digit number that is uniquely generated after successful enrolment, and adds holders to the national database that allows access to government services.

Mazen Mroue, Chief Operating Officer (COO), MTN Nigeria, disclosed the group had been granted a licence to enrol consumers on NIN on behalf of the National Identity Management Commission as well as verify their status at their service centres.

MTN Nigeria has placed an order for 14 000 biometix devices to capture enrolments that were expected to arrive in the coming two weeks, stated Mroue.

He said: “We have already been positioning and preparing for this process.”

The order for the 14,000 devices pre-dated the latest directive, according to report.

He noted that the 14,000 devices could complete 4 NIN registrations per hour per device, and in an 8-hour day all the 14 000 devices can capture 458,000 NIN enrolments a day.

Pledging to embrace and support the government’s push to broaden NIN enrolment and, the telecom firm added: “We will continue to engage with relevant authorities on the matter to establish the implementation process and timelines for execution.

“We will endeavour to ensure a seamless process to the benefit of our 75 million customers in Nigeria.

“We remain committed to contributing to Nigerian economy.”

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