Nigeria places age limit on SIM Card ownership

By Oge Udegbunam
The Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, has disqualified people under the age of 18 from registering and owning a SIM card in Nigeria.

The new regulation was announced during the public inquiry on three regulatory instruments on the rulemaking process in Abuja.

The regulatory instruments are: registration of telephone subscribers regulation, the SIM replacement guidelines and the spectrum trading guidelines.

The draft copy of the modified Registration of Telephone Subscribers Regulations described subscribers as persons above the age 18.

In the modified regulations, the NCC insisted on 18 years and above for anyone who wants to own and register a SIM card in Nigeria.

“Subscriber’ means a person not below the age of 18 years who subscribes to communications services by purchasing a subscription medium or entering into a subscription contract with a licensee,” the commission said.

The licensee refers to ‘a provider of communications services that utilises a subscription medium in the Federal Republic of Nigeria’.

The regulations were made in line with the powers conferred upon the commission by section 70 of the Nigerian Communications Act,2003.

In accordance with Section 57 of the Act, the NCC conducted a public inquiry on the registration of telephone subscribers regulations, alongside the draft SIM replacement guidelines and the draft spectrum trading guidelines at its head office in Abuja on Tuesday.

The regulation withdraws licence from “subscribers registration solution provider” who is usually contracted by the NCC for conceptualization, design, development and delivery of registration solutions which covers all licences and providing detailed subscribers information in a manner facilitating seamless integration into central database.

Also, independent registration agents will no longer have access to subscriber information.

It also says that all agents or people who register SIM cards in shops or private agents or sub agents will no longer have access to details of subscribers. They now have limits to personal information.

The draft policy clarified that the regulations is applied to all persons subscribing to communications in Nigeria and subscribers of foreign licences who are roaming on the network of a licensee in Nigeria.

This means these regulations will affect everyone using a SIM card for communications in Nigeria and anyone who uses a Nigerian number outside the country or diaspora.

At the public inquiry, operators, including MTN, 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.

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