Why Nigerians below 18 years can’t buy SIM card – NCC

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given further clarifications on why Nigerians below the age of 18 years can’t buy a GSM SIM card in the country.

Recall that it had earlier been reported in the media that NCC is developing a regulation to disqualify Nigerians below 18 years of age from getting Subscriber Identity Module (SIM).

However, in a statement signed by the Commission’s Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the Commission considers it necessary to set the record straight for the purpose of serving existing and potential telecom subscribers, investors and other stakeholders in the industry accurate information for making informed decisions.

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He said in accordance with sections 70 and 71 of the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA), 2003 and the Commission’s consultative engagement process, which define its rule-making process, the public inquiry was held for all relevant stakeholders to provide input on the draft regulatory instrument.

“The age of 18 years for SIM acquisition proposed in the draft regulation is contingent on the constitutional provision, which makes 18 years the age of consent in Nigeria.

“Also, SIM acquisition is a contract between service providers and their subscribers, which requires the subscriber to have proper legal status, be of matured mind and rational enough to bear certain responsibilities, obligations and liabilities imposed by a contract.

 Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde explained that the proposal was, therefore, to protect minors. “Parents and guardians can acquire SIMs in their names on behalf of their children and wards in which case they assume whatever responsibilities or liabilities arise from the usage of such SIMs, a measure expected to also strengthen national security.

He said while the commission is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, the draft proposal is intended to guarantee increased monitoring of children and shield the minors from undue liabilities in line with NCC’s Child Online Protection drive.

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“However, the consultative engagement process is still ongoing, as the Commission is reviewing all input from relevant stakeholders in this regard and will consider and deliberate on all comments before issuing a final regulatory instrument.

“We appeal to our media stakeholders to always fact-check their stories pertaining to telecoms regulatory issues and seek necessary clarifications for informed and accurate reporting as the Commission runs an open-house system.