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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Group tasks Reps on funds for SIM registration

The Africa Telecom Development Initiative (ATDI), has appealed to members of the House of Representatives to speed-up consideration of the proposal for Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) card registration, currently before the green chambers.

ATDI made this call through its Executive Secretary, Mr. Ken Ugbechie, at the weekend, saying that it would be the best interest of the country for the green chambers to act quickly on the SIM card proposal before them.

He recalled that a proposal for N6.1 billion was sent to the National Assembly by the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, which the commission said would enable it to effectively register all old SIM in the nation’s telephone network.

According to him, the Senate had earlier approved the budget in addition to approving its harmonization by the relevant committees of both Houses of the National Assembly, but a section of the House recently stood against its passage.

Ugbechie pointed out that it was based on this premise that ATDI is canvassing for the House to urgently re-consider its stand in view of the dire security situation in the country.

He stressed that SIM card registration is gaining ascendancy all over the world in the wake of nagging terror attacks and rising wave of technology-enhanced crimes, noting that Nigeria cannot afford to play the Ostrich in such a sensitive case.

Ugbechie also recalled that NCC had asked the telecom operators to ensure that all new subscribers in their respective networks were duly registered before their phones could be activated after the operators admitted that registration of all old customers would take a minimum of two years.

However, industry observers said that two years is too long against the backdrop of increasing acts of terror and criminality across the country and recommended a marshal plan that would guarantee the registration of both old and new SIMs in a matter of months.

This compelled the commission to propose the use of SIM registration solution providers who would register only the old subscribers while the operators would concentrate on fresh applicants.

As said by ATDI, registration of SIM cards entails the collation of the biometric information; fingerprints and facial image, addresses and other relevant information about the subscriber by the SIM card registration service provider.

ATDI maintained that this is the best option for the nation in view of escalating trend of technology-enhanced criminality.

“It will make access to information by security operatives easy rather than the practice of applying to telecom operators which negates urgency and the secrecy required in criminal investigations,” Ugbechie said.

The group also argued that if the nation could spend as much as N87 billion for the automation of voters register, what is N6 billion for the registration of phone users in the country especially when such exercise would drastically check the growing spate of kidnapping, acts of terror and sundry security anxieties?

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