Shock Value

Shock Value

The Nigerian economy, like any other, experiences “shocks”— events or policy decisions that can send a ripple of changes through the system. This column zooms in on these ripples in a range of sectors to explore how and why these shocks matter.

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NIN registration for SIM: Why the NCC’s policy is a terrible idea

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi Iyoha

Ebehi is an avid reader seeking insights in unexpected places. Her research interests include economic development, political economy and trade.

This week, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) made a shocking announcement: after December 30th, all SIM cards without an associated National Identification Number (NIN) will be deactivated.

Just a week earlier, the Commission suspended the sale, registration and activation of any new SIM cards as part of its audit of the country's subscriber registration database. This has raised a host of questions: can mobile subscribers comply with the registration requirement before the deadline? What will happen if the NCC follows through on its threat? Why is the NCC even doing this?

Before I go any further, let me make something clear: the NCC's directive is a very bad idea. On a scale of charging stamp duties to closing borders, this is as bad as Nigerian government policies get.

 

What won't happen: Meeting the deadline

The obvious problem with the NCC's directive is that most Nigerians do not have a national ID number. By October this year, only about 42 million people had been enrolled by the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC). This is less than half of the 99 million unique mobile subscribers in the country according to estimates from GSMA Intelligence. Assuming everyone with a NIN is also a mobile subscriber, the number of people that would need to be registered is staggering. 

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