May 24, 2024
Why NCC’s SIM card registration, NIMC’s verification against national identity database must go together — FG
NCC Showcases Indigenous Telecom Achievements at NTICE 2023 Expo
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Why NCC’s SIM card registration, NIMC’s verification against national identity database must go together — FG

By Eyo Nsima

The Federal Government has stressed the need to the carrying out its citizens’ identity based on SIM card registration and verification against a national identity database provides the most comprehensive SIM registration must be executed simultaneously.

In its new revised National Identity Policy for SIM Card Registration obtained from the Nigerian Communications Commission’s website, stated: “The citizens’ identity based on SIM card registration alone cannot provide such digital identity, though it provides a stop-gap in the process of achieving such secured robust digital identity. Verification against a national identity database provides the most comprehensive SIM registration solution, which gives the government, security agencies and mobile network operators a high degree of confidence that the details provided by the subscriber are true and accurate.”

According to the government, “The rapid growth of the digital economy makes it increasingly important for citizens to have a secure digital identity, which is very pivotal in promoting the participation of the citizens in the digital economy.  However, the citizens’ identity based on SIM card registration alone cannot provide such digital identity, though it provides a stop-gap in the process of achieving such secured robust digital identity.

“Verification against a national identity database provides the most comprehensive SIM registration solution, which gives the government, security agencies, and mobile network operators a high degree of confidence that the details provided by the subscriber are true and accurate. Currently, the national identity database managed by NIMC and the SIM card registration database managed by NCC is managed in silos. The SIM card registration process does not mandate the presentation of the National Identification Number (NIN) for inclusion in the SIM card registration database. Verification and validation of subscriber information are largely absent, constituting a loophole in the exercise, thereby posing security challenges which the exercise was intended to address in the first place.

“In order to promote and strengthen national digital identity, both the NIN and the mobile network identity of citizens must be matched and securely linked through a Capture and Validate (C&V) SIM card Registration process, which requires the mobile network operators to validate their customers’ credentials against a central government database, which in the case of Nigeria is the National Identity Database (NIDB). The verification confirms the subscriber identity through the NIN and makes available the personal details of the subscriber, through an authorized channel, in a secured manner.”

Continuing, the government, stated: “Various stakeholders agree that in order to create a safe and resilient digital economy, we must achieve a traceable digital identification system that would 13 mitigate challenges that contribute to the issues associated with digital services. The Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy is therefore committed to ensuring that all the necessary policies and communications infrastructure are put in place to support the digital economy and enhance the security of Nigerians.

“The ability to determine and confirm one’s digital identity is important in securing rights and access to a number of life-enhancing services including healthcare, voting, education, financial services, employment, and social protections. As progress is made in the digital age, digital identification becomes more critical to having access to mobile connectivity and a range of mobile services especially across more than 140 countries where the mandatory SIM card registration policies are in place.

“According to the GSMA reports, the World Bank GSMA Report: Mandatory registration of prepaid SIM cards – Addressing challenges through best practice, April 2016 estimates that 1.1 billion people worldwide lack any legal identification, predominantly in Africa and South Asia. Furthermore, World leaders at the World Economic Forum 2018 have made effort in strengthening multi-stakeholder cooperation and collective action to pursue the opportunities that come with digital identities and ensure the protection of rights in a sustainable and responsible manner.”

It added: “It is important to note that the United Nations had also recognized the significance of addressing the identity gap through its Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) to provide legal identity for all, including birth registration by 2030. The mobile industry was the first to publicly commit to addressing all 17 SDGs. With a global subscriber base that surpassed 5 billion in 2017, the mobile ecosystem has created a global digital platform that is increasingly connecting everyone and everything.”

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