Subscribers across Nigeria cannot retrieve their lost sim cards at the moment or even buy new lines, due to a technical glitch in the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) portal.
The portal helps telecom firms, the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS), banks and other organisations to verify the National Identity Number (NIN) of their customers before attending to them, in line with the Federal Government’s directive.
Following the directive by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for the inclusion of NIN in the requirements for all new and existing SIM cards, telecom firms are required to synchronise their SIM registration portals with the NIMC portal in order to verify the details of their subscribers.
However, the downtime experienced over the past five days by the NIMC portal has made it almost impossible for telecom firms to sell new SIM cards or retrieve lost lines.
According to a source at MTN who spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorised to speak on the matter, the downtime in the NIMC network which occurred late on Tuesday has brought SIM-related services to a halt.
The source said, “NIMC made it compulsory that before we can register a customer, we have to verify their NIN. The agency gave us a back route to its server. We connect to the server to verify NIN. When we verify, it will bring the record of the customer (the information the customer gave to NIMC while registering for NIN). We have to confirm the information the customer gave NIMC against what we have. There’s a way we connect to the NIMC server. It is that server that has been down since Wednesday.
Before now, we didn’t need NIN to do this. We just use the customer’s valid ID card and SIM pack. If the customer does not have that, a sworn affidavit is okay. However, the introduction of NIN has changed that.”
Speaking on how the development might affect the company’s revenue, the official said, “We have registration stores (centres) that attend to hundreds of customers on a daily basis. In my service centre, we attend to not less than 200 customers in a day. We can’t really estimate the amount we are losing. Sometimes, after retrieving their lines, some customers can buy as much as N30,000 airtime. Some can buy as much as N5,000 airtime. So, any day we don’t do business, one service centre can lose up to hundreds of thousands of naira.”