To ascertain the credibility of the processes adopted in the SIM card registration exercise conducted by Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) across the country, and evaluate the responsibilities of parties involved in the exercise, a survey tagged “the Nigeria SIM Card Registration Survey 2012” has been released by the Joint Action Committee on Information and Communications Technology Awareness and Development (JACITAD), the influential industry association devoted to the growth of ICT Journalism in Nigeria.
In a statement, which was signed by its President, Mr. Shina Badaru, since its conception in March 2008 much has been written about the SIM card registration in Nigeria . The survey sheds light on the accuracy and credibility of the exercise; though the “importance of the exercise was never in doubt”.
However, there were divided opinions on some issues which actually necessitated the Survey. These include: Who are the parties involved in the registration process? What is the integrity of the data gathered? What is the ability of the regulatory body to meet the objectives of the exercise? How judiciously utilised is the N6.1 billion fund appropriated by the National Assembly for the scheme?
The public reactions generated by the scheme, so far, are unexpected given the outcomes of past national ID schemes. Badaru argued that Nigeria is arguably the only country in the world without a single trusted means of identifying the citizens but yet “suffused with silos of ID initiatives”.
According to him, the objectives of the Nigeria SIM Card Registration Survey 2012 include capturing the state of SIM registration project from the view point of independent observers without pecuniary and consulting stake.
The picture that emerges from this survey, he said, which drew inference primarily from the SIM cards registration data submitted to NCC by its appointed front-end (Enrolment) partners and Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), revealed that seven network operators registered 80 per cent (78,647,422) of the SIMs, while the seven front-end partners engaged by NCC registered the remaining 20 per cent (22,831,253).
Lagos recorded the highest number of SIM registered in the country based on the figures submitted by NCC’s front-end partners. It is however difficult to know the overall SIM registered in each state because MNOs did not classified the data state by state. According to figures from front-end partners, Lagos residents registered (5,395,783 SIMs), South West States (4,581,155), North Central States (4,105,165), South-South States (4,070,156), North West States (2,140,938 ), North East States (1,776,657) and South East States (761,399).
Based on comprehensive interview with NCC’s senior officers in charge of the project, JACITAD’s study suggests that adequate risk management and corporate governance processes was put in place to forestall project failure and ensure prudent management of the appropriated fund.
For example, the initial payments of 15% of contract sums to the front-end partners were predicated on submission of Advance Payment Guaranty (APG) of equivalent value from reputable Nigerian bank.
Subsequent payments were based on certification of milestones achieved as follows: payment of 20% of contract sum upon certification of deployment of facilities in not less than 50% of the coverage areas; further payments upon certification of submitted data by the Project Management Consultant, i.e. KPMG the APG is recoverable in three equal instalments from the third payments, i.e. for certified data.
Besides, KPMG carries out monthly monitoring of the registration exercise across the country to ensure conformance to guidelines and specifications.
This survey also confirmed that NCC envisaged the possibility of multiple SIM registration, hence requisite software ware procured to clean, scrub and match all SIMs data submitted by MNOs and NCC’s front-end partners. As at the time of gathering data for the survey, NCC had cleaned 40% of the data received.
However, the survey suggests that NCC and the parties involved in the scheme did not envisage the possibility of pre-registered sales of SIMs card by fraudulent persons. As a result, “there is no risk mitigation strategy during the enrolment phase. But measures have been promptly established to address the set back”, the study concluded.