Nigeria’s GSM Prepaid Subscribers SIM Cards Registration: a Necessity
Nigerian’ GSM prepaid telecom market whose customer’s base was a little above 90 percent overall total is set for SIM card registration July 2009.
By: Isaac Fadeyibi
Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) announced the plans in August 2008 to commence the process of registration of mobile users especially those on the popular pre-paid plan who use Subscribers Identity Modular (SIM) cards that are hawked like pure water along the streets and roadsides across the country. The main objective of the move according to the vice Chairman of NCC, Engr. Ernest C. Ndukwe, was necessitated by the increasing frequency with which mobile phones are being deployed in criminal activities.
More so, allowing users to the anonymous, mobile phones tends to provide cover for criminal purposes such as Cheating, Lying, Scam, Extortions, Kidnapping, 419s activities, armed robbery and other evil menace etc. Also, to register the user of prepaid mobile phones may be said to be an invasion of the privacy for legitimate rights of subscribers who desire privacy for legitimate purposes or simply by personal preference. So what is the way out? Technology is all about problems and solutions. How can mobile phones aid promotion of public security and welfare rather than hinder it? How can mobile phones help to detect crimes? How can handset communicate its where about to the police? How can handset aid the collection of forensic data? How can innocent children who are provided with mobile by concern parents and who may easily give out information to callers unmindful of the danger to themselves be protected?
It should be noted that phone crime can effectively be tackled with the cooperation between providers, the regulators, the legislators, the executives and the users themselves. With reference to the Mumbai 26/11 terrorists attack, SIM and Data card registration helps Indian Police and other agents involved in the investigation to unravel the people behind the mother of all attack in India.
Some country in Africa and World over that already have or are contemplating SIM card registers include, South Africa, Germany, Italy, UK, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Turkey, Pakistan, Slovenia, Botswana, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana were countries that were at various level of mobile SIM card registration implementation.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has given until January 2010 for every mobile subscriber to have their SIM registered as disclosed by Vice Chairman of NCC Engr. Ndukwe recently at the public hearing of SIM card registration in Abuja, Nigeria. This is apparent to the current incessant threat and harassment many Nigerians have undergone with those who use the mobile phone to perpetrate crime.
The major hurdle in the process according to the NCC Vice Chairman is the lack of Identity Management System but arrangement have been reached to leverage and support the process of registration that would make it possible for the registration of SIM to be implemented even in the rural areas. The level at which NCC had gone and involvement of the stakeholders. It has been agreed upon according to the NCC will from next July commence the registration of all SIM cards of the operational software running GSM mobile phones in Nigeria. GSM mobile phone users who fail to register their cards at the end of the registration exercise in January 2010 as disclosed will be disconnected in the first quarter of 2010.
It is of my opinion that there should be public awareness through aggressive promotions in all media (especially mass media) by both the Nigerian regulatory body (NCC) and all the GSM mobile operators to make the subscribers know the importance of the SIM card registration from now till the end of the registration period. NCC should also work hand in hand with the National Identity Card Management Commission in order to ensure the success of this program since it is widely known that there is absence of an authentic identity data in Nigeria. The success of the SIM registration process will one way or the other assist in the proposed implementation of Mobile Number Portability which is under way.
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