NCC bars Nigerians below 18 from SIM acquisition

NCC Sensitises subscribers on NIN-SIM integration

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that Nigerians below the age of 18 will no longer be able to acquire a Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card. This is part of the new amendments made to rules guiding SIM registration in the country.

While the Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations 2011, which has now been amended describes a  subscriber as “a person who subscribes to Mobile Telecommunication Services by purchasing a subscription medium or entering into a subscription contract with a Licensee,” the new regulation adds the caveat that such a person must not be “below the age of eighteen (18) years.”

However, telecom operators at a public inquiry on the draft amended regulations pleaded with the NCC to reduce the age limit to 15 years to allow minors to acquire SIMs. Specifically, Smile Communications in its submissions on the regulations said that while it understood the need to set an age limit in respect of procuring communications services, Section 59(3) of the Labour Act approves the eligibility of young persons under the age of 14 years to engage in a contractual relationship.

Smile, therefore, urged the Commission to consider the provisions of the Labour Act and adopt the same in eligibility for SIM ownership. The operator recommended that the age limit for procuring communications services should be expanded to permit ages 15 and above.

On its part, MTN also urged the Commission to revise the age limit. MTN asked the commission to make the age limit 14 years and above. The NCC, however, insisted on 18 years and above for anyone who wants to own and register a SIM in Nigeria.

Speaking on the three guidelines for which public inquiry was held, which the Draft Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations; SIM Replacement; and Spectrum Trading Guidelines, Danbatta said Danbatta said the public inquiry was part of the rulemaking process of the Commission to ensure that all stakeholders also have their inputs in the regulations guiding them.

He added that the security situation in the country necessitated the review of the regulatory instruments.  “We are reviewing these important regulatory instruments because the circumstances that we have found ourselves dictate that we review these guidelines. The insecurity situation in the country requires that every subscriber should have his o her biometric captured for proper identification,” he said.

According to him, the NCC has been assisting the security agencies with necessary information on requests to tackle the insecurity in the country. “NCC has never been found wanton in providing information that has security dimension to relevant security agencies. Our response time in providing the information has improved from one hour to 30 minutes,” he said.








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