Jane Smith
Mon, Aug 7, 2023 7:50 AM

Telecom Operators Deactivate Mobile Lines of Underage Nigerians, Revenue Takes a Hit

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Telecom Operators Deactivate Mobile Lines of Underage Nigerians, Revenue Takes a Hit
Telecom service providers in Nigeria have started disconnecting mobile lines owned by persons under the age of 18 in compliance with the Nigerian Communications Commission's (NCC) directive. This action aims to protect minors in the country but has led to a significant decline in subscriber numbers for the telecom companies. The disconnection of underage subscribers may have an impact on the revenue of these operators, who are concerned about the negative consequences. Additionally, the move raises concerns about the potential denial of financial inclusion and e-learning opportunities for the affected youngsters.

Lagos - Telecom service providers in Nigeria have commenced the deactivation of mobile lines belonging to persons under the age of 18, adhering to the directive issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). The objective of this action is to protect minors and ensure their well-being in the country. However, the implementation of this directive has resulted in a significant decrease in subscriber numbers over a three-month period.

Between February and May 2023, telecom operators including MTN, Glo, Airtel, and 9mobile witnessed a sharp decline of over five million subscribers following the disconnection. The latest industry statistics from the NCC reveal that 5,905,044 mobile subscribers were lost during this period. These figures highlight the impact of disconnecting SIM cards owned by underage individuals.

The decline in active subscriptions for the major telecom providers can be attributed to the disconnection of SIM cards belonging to both underage users and those who have not linked their lines with the National Identification Number (NIN) as mandated by the government. The enforcement of age restrictions for SIM registration aligns with the NCC's guidelines.

In its half-year 2023 report, MTN Nigeria disclosed that the implementation of the minimum age requirement for SIM registration from 16 to 18 years started in the second quarter of 2023. This alteration had an adverse effect, leading to a decrease in MTN's subscriber base. The telecom giant explains, "In Q2, we implemented the minimum age requirement for SIM registration from 16 to 18 years, which impacted the run rate of gross connections and active data subscribers in the quarter."

The NCC's intention to prevent minors from owning SIM cards stems from the desire to protect them and shield them from potential liabilities associated with mobile phone usage. The age limit of 18 is in accordance with the constitutional provision of Nigeria, which designates this age as the age of consent. The acquisition of a SIM card entails a contractual agreement between service providers and subscribers, requiring the latter to possess legal status, be of sound mind, and capable of assuming the responsibilities and obligations that come with the contract.

To mitigate the negative impact on telecom operators' revenue, the disconnection of underage subscribers needs to be strategically managed. Industry observers recognize that the implementation of this policy will inevitably affect the bottom line of these operators. This situation is exemplified by MTN Nigeria's financial statement for the first half of 2023, which shows a 29.14% decline in profit compared to the same period in 2022.

While protecting minors is of paramount importance, concerns have been raised regarding the potential adverse consequences for the underage subscribers who will be denied the benefits of financial inclusion and e-learning. The disconnection of their mobile lines may hinder their access to essential services and opportunities for growth in an increasingly digital age.

Source of content: OOO News 2023-08-07 News

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