June 13, 2024

Telecommunications company, Airtel Nigeria, said 9.2 million customers have submitted their National Identification Number (NIN) for verification ahead of the February 28 deadline issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for all unlinked lines to be fully barred.  

The parent company, Airtel Africa, disclosed this in its nine-month financial statement released on Thursday.

While noting that Airtel Nigeria does not have a significant number of customers without NIN that could affect its revenue, the company said those who had submitted are now being verified. 

Airtel added that 4.5m customers have already been verified since the directive was issued in December 2023 

With concerns that some of its customers might be affected by the directive on February 28, Airtel said it is working with the telecom regulator to minimize the risk of service disruption.

“Airtel Nigeria does not have a significant number of customers generating material revenues that have yet to submit their NINs for verification. There are approximately 9.2 million customers who are currently going through the process of NIN verification.  

“Since the directive was issued in December 2023, 4.5 million customers have already been verified. We continue to engage with the NCC and work closely with the relevant authorities to facilitate and accelerate the verification process to minimize the risk of service disruption to these customers, whilst also limiting the revenue impact from our compliance with the directive issued,” the company stated.

In December last year, the NCC issued a directive asking mobile network operators in the country to implement full network barring on all phone lines for which the subscribers have not submitted their national identification numbers (NINs) by February 28, 2024. 

In addition, those who had submitted their NINs but have not been verified are also to be fully barred. 

About NINs that have been submitted but not verified, such lines are to be barred on or before 29 March 2024, where five or more lines are linked to an unverified NIN. 

Similarly, where less than five lines are linked to an unverified NIN, such lines are to be barred on or before 15 April 2024. 

According to the directive, all affected subscribers must be verified (biometrics and biodata) before their lines are unbarred. This latest directive came as a follow-up to the NCC’s directive on 4 April 2022 requiring operators to restrict outgoing calls (one-way barring) for subscribers whose lines are not linked with NINs. 

With the impending deadline, the mobile network operators may lose some customers as many would still not comply.

From December 2020 when the mandatory NIN-SIM Linkage exercise was first announced, telecom operators had lost over 20 million subscriptions as some subscribers abandoned their lines.

However, the operators started recovering the loss as more Nigerians registered for NIN, bringing active subscriptions across the 4 mobile networks to over 200 million as of August.  

However, with the new directive, the operators may see a further decline in their database starting from February when millions of lines currently restricted are fully barred. 


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