Nigeria moves NIN-SIM integration deadline – again

It’s probably not a major surprise to hear that Nigeria’s ongoing National Identification Number (NIN) and Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) integration exercise has been extended by eight weeks. The new deadline is now 6 April.

The decision followed a meeting of the Ministerial Taskforce on NIN-SIM registration (which included operators as well as government officials) and is described as a way to give Nigerians and legal residents more time to integrate their NIN with the SIM.

According to Nigeria’s Guardian newspaper, so far over 56 million NINs have been collected by the mobile network operators, though an NIN is usually linked to three to four SIMs so it may be that this current figure accounts for a significant portion of the existing SIMs.

That said, operators haven’t found the registration process easy. So far over 1,060 registration centres for NIN have been activated and made operational by Nigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) across the country, while operators have opened hundreds of NIN enrolment centres and are rapidly deploying resources to open thousands more.

A number of questions have been raised about the advisability of an exercise that may involve queuing and crowds during a pandemic, but large-scale enrolment does seem to be going ahead, albeit slower than the Nigerian government may have hoped when it set its original deadline of the end of 2020.

Indeed in recent days Nigerian operator Globacom has said it has begun registering customers for the NIN at its Gloworld outlets across the country and MTN Nigeria has said it has commenced enrolment for the NIN at some of its centres in Lagos, Port Harcourt and Abuja.

By late last week Airtel Nigeria had collected 21 million NINs from its 44.4 million subscriber base, leaving 23.4 million subscribers with unlinked SIM cards. As we mentioned yesterday, Airtel was optimistic that the deadline would be extended, an optimism that appears to have been well-founded.

In fact this is the second extension. As we reported late last year, in December the federal government extended the deadline for telecommunications companies to block SIM cards not integrated with NINs to 9 February.