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MTN loses 7.2m active subscriptions to NIN-SIM linkage enforcement



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Nigeria’s biggest telecom operator, MTN Nigeria recorded a drop in the number of active subscribers on its network following the enforcement of directives banning SIMs not linked with NIN.

According to the latest industry data released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the company’s total active subscriptions, which stood at 87 million in December 2023, plunged to 79.7 million in January.

Recall that MTN recently disclosed that it had disconnected 4.2 million lines following the NCC’s directive on NIN-SIM linkage.

According to the company, since December 2023 when NCC issued an industry-wide directive requiring full barring of subscriber lines not linked to their NIN, it had subjected a total of 19 million lines to verification.

Out of these, it said 4.3 million have been verified and 4.2 million disconnected as of 28 February 2024.

Meanwhile, Airtel and Globacom recorded marginal gains in their subscription database for the month despite the ongoing disconnection exercise.

Airtel, which recently overtook Globacom as the second-largest MNO, gained 767,887 subscriptions. This pushed up its database to 62.6 million in January from 61.8 million in December last year.

Globacom also recorded an increase in its subscriptions as its database grew by 321,869 to 61.9 million from 61.6 million in December.

However, the fourth mobile operator, 9mobile, recorded a decline for the month. The company’s subscriptions declined by 135,788 to 13.7 million in January this year.

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According to the data, active subscriptions across the four mobile networks of MTN, Airtel, Globacom, and 9mobile stood at 224.4 million as of December 2023, but declined to 218 million in January, 2024.

With the decline in actively connected lines recorded by the operators, the country’s teledensity, which measures the number of active telephone connections per 100 inhabitants living within an area, also declined to 100.75 in January 2024 from 103.66 per cent recorded in December last year.

According to a directive issued by the NCC in December last year, all telecommunications operators in Nigeria, including MTN, Airtel, and Globacom, among others are 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.

On 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.