Nigerian committee recommends twelve month ban on new SIM sales

20 Nov 2007

Nigeria’s House of Representatives has recommended that the country’s GSM operators are banned from selling new SIM cards for a period of twelve months. The drastic suggestion is aimed at preventing networks from overselling their capacity at the expense of quality of service. A parliamentary committee was set up to investigate widespread complaints of poor services being provided by the GSM cellcos MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile and Celtel Nigeria. The parliamentary committee’s report criticised the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Ministry of Communications for poor planning and controls, and the operators for continuing to connect new customers before the network capacity problems had been fixed. ‘It is important to note that the GSM companies are selling services they do not have. The poor quality of telecom services cannot be corrected by incompetent planners. They would only exacerbate an already bad situation because of lack of know how,’ said the report. However, the recommendations are not binding, so it is not clear whether a ban will be put in place.

The regulator, the NCC has already censured the three big GSM cellcos for the massive network difficulties experienced by users this year, including enforced refunds, a ban on promotions, and fines; Glo Mobile was fined NGN5 million (USD40,600) in September 2007 for contravening a ban on promotional activities imposed in July.