ANOTHER Buhari Policy Backfires As Nigeria’s Internet Subscriptions Drop In June After SIM Sale Suspension
There has been yet another policy introduced by President Muhammadu Buhari that didn’t quite yield a positive outcome.
The policy in this instance in the suspension of sale and activation of new SIM cards in December 2020.
According to the latest report on active internet subscriptions by technology, released by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, internet subscriptions in Nigeria slipped in eight consecutive months from November 2020 to June 2021, to as low as 140.2 million, after attaining 154.4 million subscriptions in November 2020.
The figure is a combination of internet subscriptions on Mobile GSM, Fixed Wired lines and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technologies.
Experts have blamed this decline on suspension of sale and activation of new SIM cards, a policy direction that was introduced by the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami.
The Nigerian Communications Commission, had in December 2020, announced the directive of the federal government to suspend further sales and activation of new SIM cards known as Subscriber Identification Module.
The suspension was expected to last till the completion of the audit of the Subscriber Registration Database, which seeks to achieve global standards and quality in the issuance of SIM Cards.
Giving reasons for the suspension order, the federal government, in a statement released in December 2020 by NCC, said: “In line with the federal government desire to consolidate the achievement of the SIM Card registration exercise of September 2019, the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami, has directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to embark on another audit of the Subscriber Registration Database again.
“The objective of the audit exercise is to verify and ensure compliance by Mobile Network Operators with the set quality standards and requirements of SIM Card Registration as issued by the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy and the Commission.
“Accordingly, Mobile Netowork Operators are directed to immediately suspend the sale, registration and activation of new SIM Cards until the audit exercise is concluded, and government has conveyed the new direction.”
While Nigerians were still battling with the suspension order, Pantami, in the same December 2020, issued a fresh directive that made it compulsory for all SIM card registrations to be linked with National Identity Number (NIN), another directive that caused so much pains on telecoms subscribers.
Updated data which were obtained from NCC’s website, showed that in November 2020, the total number of active internet subscriptions was 154.8 million, but it slipped to 154.3 million in December 2020, with a further slip in January 2021 to 151.3 million.
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