Unregistered SIM cards pit minister against telcos

Again, the issue of poorly registered/unregistered SIM cards on the network has aroused the attention of the Federal Government. It has earned the telcos fines running into millions of naira, with the highest, N330billion, just settled by MTN Nigeria this year. LUCAS AJANAKU writes on the need for stakeholders to collaborate and end the menace. Communications Minister, Dr Isa Pantami, is not new to the Information Communication Technology (ICT) space.He had stirred one or two controversies in the past. When he headed the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), his attempt to register IT contractors was resisted by the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS), which insisted that registering contractors wasn’t part of the intention of NITDA Act 2007. Its role  is to plan, promote and develop regulatory framework and guidelines as stated in NITDA Act 2007, Section 6a. “The Computer Professionals Registration Council of Nigeria (CPN) Act 49 of 1993 is saddled with the mandate to register, license, supervise and control the profession as stated in CPN Act Section 1 (2),” NCS insisted.Again, in July this year, the Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON) pettioned the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) over attempt by NITDA to usurp its functions.Titled: Introduction of Legal Instruments by NITDA with Attendant Impact on the Operations of Entities Regulated by the NCC–Request for Guidance, the telcos had drawn NCC’s attention to:  Framework and Guidelines for Public Internet Access (PIA) 2019; Framework for Data Centre Facilities; and Nigeria Data Protection Regulation 2019.  ALTON  raised concern over NITDA’s attempt to regulate data services. It also faulted attempt to register data centres in the country under the guise of   Presidential Executive Orders 003 and 005 on local content development.The telcos also raised concern over NITDA’s attempt to turn itself into Data Protection Agency by making its regulation to override the NCC’s provision on data processing in the industry.When he assumed office, Pantami told CEOs of Federal Government agencies under the supervision of the ministry that their performance would be assessed monthly. He warned that sanctions awaited anyone found wanting in the perfromance of their duties.Specifically, Pantami madated the NCC to end the issue of sale of pre-registered, unregistered and partially-registered SIM cards, especially as this can help in reducing numerous security challenges the nation faces; stem the tide of illegal deduction of data of subscribers and work towards the downward review of the cost of data; and ensure compliance with the maximum two per cent Call Drop Rate directive to telecom operators.It may have been pursuant to the mandate he gave to the NCC to end the sale of pre-registered, unregistered and partially-registered SIM cards that he directed the regulator to deactivate 9.2 million unregistered subscriber identity module (SIM) cards on the system.The concern of the minister is understandable. Almost 10 years after SIM registration started, it is curious that the telcos are yet to get it right.Last week, a statement from Communication Ministry  said  the NCC has submitted its baseline short-term performance targets report.“The report, si ...Read more

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