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Telcos lose 15.3m subscribers over identity policy

Telecom operators lost about 15.33 million in the last one year due to the implementation of government’s personal identity policy.

Data obtained from the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) showed that between December 2020 and last November, about 15.33 million subscribers exited the nation’s telecommunication network.

Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Companies of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, attributed the decline in subscribers’ base to two-related Federal Government’s policies.

According to him, the policy on linking subscriber identity module (SIM) card with the National Identity Number (NIN) and the total stoppage of selling new SIM cards to members of the public were mainly responsible for the decline.

On whether the shrink in the economy affected the average revenue per user (ARPU) of telephone users, particularly in the light of the fact that the nation’s telecom landscape is characterised by several subscribers holding multiple SIM cards, Adebayo said though ARPU might have dipped in voice call, it went up for data.

According to data from NCC, between December 2010 and January, last year, the industry lost 4.36 million global system for mobile communication (GSM) users while between February and March of last year, 3.65 million subscribers were lost.

Between April and May, 1.68 million GSM users left the network while June and July recorded minimal subscribers of 195,313 leaving the network. Between August and September, the number of users that exited the network increased again to 1.92 million while between October and November, 1.24 million GSM users left the network.

In October, the total number of subscribers was 191.62 million while in November it stood at 192.85 million showing a deficit of 1.24 million subscribers while between November and December, 2.27 million subscribers were lost.

President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers (NATCOMS), Deolu Ogunbanjo, carpeted the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) for the misfortune of the operators. He accused NIMC of turning its registration centres as conduits for fleecing desperate people in need of NIN for banking, international passport renewal or new SIM card activation.

Ogunbanjo said NIN does not have the technical capacity to handle the NIN process, a situation that has continued to rob operators of subscriber numbers and cash from the use of the network for voice calls, data and other services.

He lamented that even the licencees of NIMC such as Glo, Airtel, MTN and 9mobile are hardly able to successfully register persons that visit their centres for NIN.

“It’s so frustrating. Visit any of these centres and you will discover that the highest they do daily is perhaps between three and five persons because of inability to connect servers,” he said. He urged the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof Isa Pantami, to properly equip the Commission ADAPTED FROM THE NATION

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