Mobile operators are preparing for the financial impact of having to comply with a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to bar outgoing calls from subscribers who have not registered with the country’s National Identity Numbers (NIN) system.
According to the NCC, the West African country has over 200 million mobile phone users, with MTN and Airtel being the largest and second largest respectively in an industry that includes competitors Glo and 9Mobile.
About 73 million of Nigeria’s mobile phone users have now been restricted from making outbound calls because they are not registered with identification numbers.
MTN, the largest mobile operator in Nigeria with over 80 million network users, issued a notice to shareholders on 6 April 2022: “Outgoing voice revenue from the current subscribers who have not submitted a NIN amounts to about 9% of MTN Nigeria’s total FY 2021 service revenue on an annualised basis. For (the) MTN Group, this would amount to approximately 3% of FY 2021 service revenue on an annualised basis.”
MTN Nigeria added it is making “good progress” with the SIM NIN registration exercise.
It said by 31 March 2022 around 47 million subscribers had already submitted their NINs, representing about 67% of its subscriber base. The registered subscribers also constitute 76% of MTN’s service revenue for the 2021 financial full year.
MTN’s rival operator, Airtel Nigeria said yesterday that “… with effect from 4 April 2022, all SIMs that have not been linked to a NIN will be placed on receive only” status. The operator has about 42.4 million active subscribers on its Nigerian network.
It added that as at 5 April, Airtel Nigeria had collated NIN information for 73% of its active customer base which accounts for around 79% of its revenues from Nigeria.
“The impact on the business in terms of customer numbers and revenues is uncertain,” Airtel Africa stated.
Local publication The Nation Nigeria reported that “… angry and frustrated subscribers affected by the partial SIM deactivation order yesterday thronged the offices of the telecoms companies to find out why they couldn’t make calls on their phones even when they have sufficient airtime.”
Nigerian mobile operators have now deployed “points of enrollment across the country” to support NIN registration. MTN Group and MTN Nigeria are scheduled to host a conference call with investors on 8 April 2022.