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Nigeria still wrestling with SIM-NIN integration headache

Nigeria’s government continues to grapple with challenges linked to the ongoing SIM card – National Identity Number (NIN) integration, and technology professionals have responded.

From extortion, to a cloned NIMC app and fear of mass disconnection of subscribers’ phone lines, the implementation of the integration process has been fraught with several reported challenges.

Paul Damalie, founder at Inclusive Innovations, the creators of Appruve identity verification tools across Africa including in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya, believes standard operating procedures were either not implemented or followed.

“The first challenge is that you have a country where institutions are not well-resourced, they don’t have the best human resource in there too to execute operationally,” he said, tying all the challenges - which he deemed avoidable - to organisational and operational efficiency.

According to the NCC, every subscriber in Nigeria now has approximately four to five SIMs, so seven SIMs are allowed to be linked to one unique NIN.

The SIM-NIN integration is meant to enhance general safety as well as help with government budgeting, planning and implementing social intervention programmes. New business models are also expected to emerge and customer experience improved as risks associated with doing businesses in Nigeria are reduced while growth accelerates.

Gbenga Odegbami, CEO of Youverify, a start-up that helps businesses and individuals confirm identity and physical addresses, said some challenges are unique to Nigeria.

Odegbami said: “Some challenges are the feedback from the society we live in. For example, identity fraud is not new to Nigeria, even in the most advanced countries globally. And, the adoption of NIN will increase the instances of fraud associated with it. There will be fraudsters both locally and internationally continuously seeking out new ways to defraud citizens as the NIN adoption increases. That said, extortion is endemic in Nigeria, mostly owing to the poverty of the mind and the pocket. Extortion is not a NIN or NIMC problem. This is a Nigerian problem.”

Like Damalie, whose Appruve is the first Sub-Saharan African member of the Financial Data Exchange, Odegbami praised NIMC for the linkage exercise - particularly for the impact it would have on mitigating risks for users, making impersonation more difficult and providing an additional tool for government agencies to combat insecurity in the country.

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