MTN, Glo and Other Telcos May Not Resume Sale of Sim Cards Until May Despite Lifted Ban

MTN to increase tariff across Nigeria, South Africa, other African markets
An MTN centre

One week after the Federal Government- approved date for resumption of SIM card the sale and registration, MTN, Glo and other telecom operators are yet to resume sales.

Recall that the Technical Assistant to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Femi Adeluyi, had directed that SIM sales resume on Monday, April 19.

However, subscribers that visited the telcos’ offices since last week have been unable to buy or register any sim card. Investigations by Technext revealed that most telco operators are yet to be given the approval to resume.

A visit to some telco shops and sim card kiosks in Lagos by this correspondent confirmed that no telco is currently selling sim cards. An attendant at an MTN Connect plaza in Lagos simply said that sales are not yet approved.

Sim Card Sale May Not Resume Until Next Month

Similarly, attendants at a GLO World place and Airtel Express office all in Lagos said that they have not started sales of sim cards.

Like the Telco offices, several SIM cards kiosks this correspondent visited also acknowledged that SIM card sales have not started.

However, internet service providers like Spectranet have started selling SIM cards to subscribers. A Spectranet subscriber told Technext that she was able to buy her SIM card on the 20th, a day after the ban was lifted.

Sim registration portal is not open

The reasons for the delay in the resumption of SIM card sales by telcos based on investigation varies from lack of written directives from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to technical issues like registration portals.

Asked why sales have not resumed, the MTN attendant explained that they have not gotten a go-ahead. Although she wasn’t specific, it could be that the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) has not sent circulars for telco’s to resume and they are playing it safe.

This is not surprising as the initial embargo on SIM card sale was placed by the NCC and not the Minister. So despite the public lifting of the ban, most telcos won’t make a move until a written directive is sent.

However, the attendant also revealed MTN is working on an Application to resume sales. Similarly, the Airtel attendant revealed that the portal to allow registration of new sim cards has not opened.

Sim Card Sale May Not Resume Until Next Month
An MTN Experience Center

Recall that the basis for the lifting of the SIM embargo was the approval of the Revised National Digital Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to the revised policy, any Nigerian willing to buy a new SIM must have registered for the National Identification Number (NIN) and submitted the same at the point of purchase.

The new requirement could have necessitated a revamp of the sim registration portal which may be the cause of the delay.

Sale may start next Month

Asked when the sale of SIM cards will resume, the MTN attendant revealed that will most probably next month.

However, the Glo attendant said they do not know when it will start. Similarly, the Airtel attendant said he cannot say. He added that the information has not been communicated to them.

He, however, revealed that they are aware that the embargo has been lifted.

Owners of SIM Kiosks Pivoting to POS Business

Like most Telco offices, several Sim Kiosk visited have not started selling SIMS and stated that they do not know when it will be begin.

However, it was surprising that 3 out of the 5 Kiosks visited had already pivoted to POS kiosks sometime during the four-month ban.

This showed that Telcos are not the only ones to have lost revenue due to the embargo on sim sale. While some of the Kiosk owners who have pivoted are unbordered by the delay, there is still a significant few that are suffering from the delay in the resumption of sales.

In Summary

The lifting of the SIM card suspension was a relief to many telecom subscribers especially those who lost their SIM cards between December last year and April.

However, with the current uncertainties surrounding the resumption of sales by telecom operators, they may have to wait till Next Month to start buying or recovering their SIMs.

Technext has reached out to the NCC for comments and will update with their response.

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