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Sale, Use Pre-registered SIM Cards Boom Despite Fines, Arrests

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The unlawful sale and use of pre-registered of SIM cards has continued and is now hobbling the efforts to get the true identities of mobile phone users in Nigeria.

 

The sale or use of pre-registered of SIM card carries a fine or jail term or both, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

 

For a telecom company, each pre-registered SIM card attracts a penalty of N200,000 and for a user an imprisonment.

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Despite the fine and arrests of some sellers in some parts of the country, the sale and use of pre-registered of SIM cards is still widespread.

 

In effect, criminally-minded people are utilising other peoples’ identities or fraudulent information to register and distribute SIM cards that are bought by innocent subscribers and criminally-minded ones for the purpose of committing fraud without being traced as the number they use do not bear their identities.

 

Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC, said that Nigerians must stop selling pre-registered SIM cards because it is an act of illegality that undermines national security.

According to the NCC, rather than patronise the criminals who peddle pre-registered SIM cards, the public should report them to law enforcement agencies as part of their responsibility, not only as subscribers but also as good citizens.

 

Elsewhere, Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, inspector general of police, described the sale and use of pre-registered SIM card as a severe threat to security sector and governance.

 

He said: “These criminal activities, including use of pre-registration subscriber identification module SIM cards should be of concern to all of us. As a law enforcement officer, it is my belief that in addressing these challenges, we must re-strategise on our noble programme of community policing across communities and give our communities greater stake in securing national assets.

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But industry experts insisted that there is a need for NCC and the Mobile Network operators to step up education on pre-registered SIM to the populace.

 

In addition to what the NCC has done, experts confirmed that it is time for both service providers and the regulator (NCC) to collaborate and stop every person bent on derailing the registration process through the sale of pre-registered cards.

 

Chuks Arubalaeze, a telecom lawyer said that cards that have also been pre-registered by wrong persons also need to be identified and destroyed because when they fall into the wrong hands.

 

“The consequence could affect the process and have a devastating effect on National security” she added.

 

The sale of pre-registered SIM cards is unethical and fundamental crime.  The implications of the sale of pre-registered SIM cards cannot be over emphasized, as innocent citizens could be wrongfully implicated due to the indiscriminate use of the pre-registered SIM cards arising from its sale to seasoned criminals and no good individuals, seeking to perpetuate one form of crime or the other.

 


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Ignore Rumours, Telcos Not Laying 5G Cables- NCC

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Telecom operators are not laying 5G fibre optic cables in Lagos and other parts as claimed in videos, audio and text messages circulating on the social media, according to Prof Umar Danbatta, executive vice- chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC)

Ignore Rumours, Telcos Not Laying 5G Cables- NCC

Danbatta, in a statement on Wednesday, said the laying of fibre optic cables, which was ongoing, and the other telecoms equipment by mobile network operators was to expand their network infrastructure across the country to provide more efficient services to consumers.

The NCC boss said the claim that some digging and laying of fibre optic cables by telecom operators in Lagos and in some other states was connected to 5G equipment deployment was totally wrong.

“As we speak, any information suggesting or claiming that the equipment being deployed by the network operators is 5G equipment is pure misinformation deliberately orchestrated by individuals bent on creating ill-feelings in the industry,” Danbatta said.

Danbatta described the 5G claims as unfounded and ill-motivated and called on Nigerians to disregard them no matter who is making the claims.

 


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Helios Towers Halts African Expansion

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Telecommunications tower infrastructure company, Helios Towers has announced that it cannot go ahead with the investment on its expansion plans for Africa, in the light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic that has also hit telecoms markets in Africa.

Helios Towers CEO Kash Pandya said the current environment does not favour acquisition operations.

“It’s not that the talks are stalled, because you can always have conference calls, but for real mergers and acquisitions to happen, you need things like field investigations. It will be slower for a few months, but the world will have to return to normal at some point.”

In Africa, Helios Towers currently operates in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana and South Africa.

Aside its current markets, Helios Towers had previously expressed interests in the Ethiopian market where it is aiming to acquire 2,500 towers over the next five years, and the intention is to construct a similar number of towers in the country within the same period.

Pandya noted that the company has had to deal with similar health-related threats to the telecom sector in DR Congo.

“We have gained some experience in this kind of situation with regard to comparable and difficult moments crossed in some of our markets, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo with the Ebola epidemic,” he said.

Pandya however expressed optimism in the ability of the telecoms market to weather the storm being created by the current health crisis.

It would be recalled that in October 2019, Helios Towers raised funds after listing its shares on the London Stock Exchange via an initial public offering. The company said proceeds would finance its entry into new African markets and add to a portfolio of almost 7,000 towers.

Mid-March 2020, the company released its results for the year to 31 December 2019 which showed revenue increased by 9% year-on-year to US$388 million from US$356 million in 2018. The company attributed the growth to continued growth in the number of sites and tenancies.

“Helios Towers has had another strong year, both financially and operationally. Revenues increased +9% to US$388-million, Adjusted EBITDA grew 16% to US$205-million. Our operating profit was a touch below breakeven at US$-5 million and included US$63 million of exceptional items, deal costs and non-cash costs related to our value-accretive site consolidation program,” Pandya said.

For 2020 and beyond, the CEO said the company will continue to focus on driving profitable revenue expansion by leveraging the exciting growth in its sub-Saharan markets, long-term client contracts and sustained improvements in its operations, while also prioritising further inorganic opportunities.

“Helios Towers is investing heavily in local expertise, capabilities and training that deliver the services for our MNO customers and their users, as well as generating broader economic benefits in the countries in which we operate. We also remain keenly focused on delivering on the structural opportunities present across Africa,” Pandya stated.


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Governors, MTN Partner to Halt Spread of COVID-19 with Data

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Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and MTN Nigeria have agreed to use the vulnerability model to drive a data-driven approach to stopping the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country.

Governors, MTN Partner to Halt Spread of COVID-19 with Data

Both have reiterated the importance of cancelling all deductions and deferring or restructuring all commercial debt service payments on the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)-owned debts.

The agreement with MTN Nigeria was reached Sunday at the meeting held to deliberate on the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.

The approval was given by the governors after the Forum received a presentation from Mazen Mroue, chief operating officer and Olubayo Adekanmbi, chief transformation officer, MTN Nigeria, on the ongoing collaboration with the NGF Secretariat to profile States vulnerability to the spread of the coronavirus based on parameters such as population age and density, travel history, location, income level.

In a communique signed by Governor Kayode Fayemi, chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, members also emphasized the necessity for stronger collaboration with States because they are best positioned to administer palliatives to mitigate the impact of the crisis, including the distribution of food and essential materials to households to help them cope with the expected loss of income and livelihoods.

This was following a briefing from Boss Mustapha, secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), on the activities of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 which he chairs, the Forum having commended the SGF and his team for the commitment in leading a national response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Forum expressed appreciation to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) set up by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for their pledge to support States increase their capacity to mitigate the spread of the virus and care for confirmed cases through the construction of isolation centres and the distribution of personal protective equipment to States. The governors stressed the need for CACOVID to work directly with the States in the distribution of palliatives.

Governors unanimously supported the unification of exchange rates into a single, market-determined window and the use of the market-determined exchange rate to calculate all revenues due to the federation.

The NGF Chairman had briefed state governors on ongoing coordination with the World Bank to mobilise support for States to mitigate the economic and social cost of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ongoing plans include accelerated disbursement of existing and new financing for States under the State Fiscal, Transparency, Accountability and Sustainability (SFTAS) Programme-for-Results, and mitigation and recovery support for expenditures to protect livelihoods, support local economic activity and recovery over the next 18 months to 2 years.


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