NIN-SIM linkage: MTN Nigeria disconnects 8.6 million lines

MTN Nigeria said it had eliminated at least 8.6 million lines from its network in compliance with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) ruling of February 28, 2024, which requires telecommunication companies to disconnect SIM cards not linked to the National Identity Number (NIN).

This information was disclosed in the company’s financial report for the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, indicating an impact on the operations of the quarter.

MTN specified that users with more than five lines connected to an unverified NIN and those who did not submit their NIN are the ones affected by the complete ban on their lines.

Additionally, MTN mentioned that the NCC has extended the deadline from April 15 to July 31, 2024, to allow users with fewer than five lines connected to an unverified NIN more time to complete the necessary verification process.

Karl Toriola, the CEO of MTN Nigeria, addressed the effects of the NIN-SIM linkage exercise and the regulatory directive on the sector, stating that during the quarter, the company also continued to manage the effects on its business of the industry-wide directive of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for a full barring of subscriber lines not linked to their National Identity Number (NIN) – the NIN-SIM directive.

He added: “This impacted the development of our user base across all of our key business units (voice, data, and fintech) in Q1 2024. Although we had to fully bar 8.6 million subscribers in line with the directive, we minimised the net effect of the barred subscribers, and our total number of subscribers only decreased by 2 million in Q1, closing with a total of 77.7 million subscribers.”

Toriola stated that this demonstrated the effectiveness of the company’s customer value management (CVM) initiatives, contributing to lower churn rates, improved customer loyalty, and an increase in total connections.

Information provided by the NCC indicates that the combined active mobile subscriptions in Nigeria from MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile decreased from 224.4 million in December 2023 to 219 million by March 2024 due to the enforcement of the mandatory NIN-SIM registration policy by all telecom service providers.

“MTN also reported a decline in its data subscribers in the quarter under review. Active data subscribers declined marginally by approximately 78,000 to 44.5 million. Notwithstanding these headwinds, we recorded increased activity within the base, with voice traffic rising by 5.1 per cent and data traffic by 40.6 per cent. This is a result of the consistent growth in demand for data and voice, supported by our attractive offers to customers and continuous investment in network quality and coverage,” Toriola added.

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