07, 2021 / 03:17 PM / by CSL Research / Header Image Credit: The Guardian NG
There have been recent news reports about the Nigerian Communication Commission banning Minors (People of ages below 18 years) from acquiring Subscribers Identification Modules (SIM Card) in Nigeria. In a press statement today, the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) clarified its position stating that the commission has not disqualified Nigerians below 18 from getting SIM cards. The commission clarified that the age limit was merely a proposal set in the draft Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations, which was brought before operators at a public inquiry held on Wednesday for their suggestions.
The proposal is based on the constitutional provision, which makes 18 years the age of Consent in Nigeria. A SIM acquisition, a contract between service providers and their subscribers, requires the subscriber to have proper legal status. However, the commission noted that if the proposal becomes accepted, Parents and guardians can acquire SIMs in their names on behalf of their children and wards and assume whatever responsibilities or liabilities that may arise from the use of such SIMs. The overall intent, according to the commission, is to protect minors and strengthen national security.
Unlike the NIN-SIM integration, which had significantly slowed growth for the sector since Q3 2020, this policy is not expected to negatively impact the operators as parents and guardians can acquire SIMs for their children and wards. According to the NCC, between November 2020 and August 2021, Nigeria had lost 18.76 million active SIM card subscribers, indicating the effect of the NIN-SIM integration policy.
However, the policy puts a significant responsibility on parents to monitor the activities of their minors.
The policies of the NCC in the past two years have been geared towards improving national security. First, we had the SIM card audit, which aimed to create and manage an effective database for mobile subscribers. This policy was followed by the SIM-NIN integration, which provides a unique identification for all subscribers. Now, the regularization of all otherwise void subscriber contracts between minors and Telcos. While we laud efforts by the commission to strengthen national security through these policies, we note that only effective implementation and monitoring can make such policies successful.For example, the possibility of lack of due diligence at the point of SIM registration.