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Telecom operators begin disconnection of under 18 mobile subscribers

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Telecommunications operators in Nigeria have begun the implementation of the age restriction for mobile subscribers as stipulated in the recent guidelines for SIM registration released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

This has led to the disconnection of some mobile lines registered by persons under the age of 18. Specifically, MTN disclosed in its half-year 2023 that it began the implementation of this restriction in Q2 this year, which led to a plunge in its subscription database.

“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,” MTN stated.


Two other mobile operators also confirmed to Nairametrics that this is being done in line with the regulatory guidelines for SIM registration.

Mobile subscriptions decline
The disconnections explain why there has been a consistent decline in the country’s mobile subscriptions over the last three months.

Data released by the NCC showed that total active mobile subscriptions across the mobile networks declined by 1 million in April despite new activations. In May, active subscriptions further declined by 2.5 million.

The trend continued in June as the latest data released by the telecom regulator showed a further reduction in connected mobile lines by 1.2 million. This brought the total active mobile subscriptions in the country to 219.7 million at the end of June.

Explaining why it revised the age of acquiring a SIM upward from 16 to 18, NCC in a statement released when the regulation was first announced in October 2021 said it was aimed at protecting minors in the country.

The Commission said this was also in accordance with the Nigerian constitution, which recognizes 18 as the age at which a Nigerian can enter a contractual relationship.

The Commission further explained that SIM acquisition is a contract between service providers and their subscribers, which requires the subscriber to have proper legal status, be of mature mind, and be rational enough to bear certain responsibilities, obligations, and liabilities imposed by a contract.

“The regulation is, therefore, to protect minors. Parents and guardians can acquire SIMs in their names on behalf of their children and wards in which case they assume whatever responsibilities or liabilities arise from the usage of such SIMs, a measure expected to also strengthen national security.


“While the Commission is progressively pursuing digital inclusion for all, the draft proposal is intended to guarantee increased monitoring of children and shield the minors from undue liabilities in line with NCC’s Child Online Protection drive,” the Commission stated.

At a public inquiry on the regulation, which was a draft then, operators had pleaded with the NCC to reduce the age limit to 15 years to allow minors to acquire SIMs.

Specifically, Smile Communications in its submissions to the regulation said that while it understood the need to set an age limit in respect of procuring communications services, Section 59(3) of the Labour Act approves the eligibility of young persons under the age of 14 years to engage in a contractual relationship.

Smile urged the Commission to consider the provisions of the Labour Act and adopt the same in eligibility for SIM ownership.

The operator recommended that the age limit for procuring communications services should be expanded to permit ages 15 and above.

On its part, MTN also urged the Commission to revise the age limit. MTN asked the commission to make the age limit 14 years and above.

The NCC, however, insisted on 18 years and above for anyone who wants to own and register a SIM in Nigeria.

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Diesel price increased to N1,462 per litre in June, says NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the average price of automotive gas oil (AGO), also known as diesel, was N1,462.98 per litre in June.

In its automotive gas oil (diesel) price watch for June 2024 on Wednesday, the bureau said this represents an increase of 4.20 percent compared to N1,403.96 reported in May.

“The average retail price of automotive gas oil (diesel) paid by consumers increased by 79.32% on a year-on-year basis from a lower cost of N815.83 per litre recorded in the corresponding month of last year (i.e., June 2023) to a higher cost of N1462.98 per litre in June 2024,” NBS said.

“On a month-on-month basis, an increase of 4.20% was recorded from N1403.96 in the preceding month of May 2024 to an average of N1462.98 in June 2024.

“Looking at the variations in the state prices, the top three states with the highest average price of the product in June 2024 include Niger State (N1979.23), Cross River State (N1920.86), and Taraba (N1742.46).

“Furthermore, the top three lowest prices were recorded in the following states namely, Lagos state (N1210.77), Ogun state (N1239.17), and Abuja (N1240.00).”

Based on zonal representation, the bureau said the north-east zone has the highest average diesel price of N1,659.07; while the south-west zone has the lowest price of N1,280.54.

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CBN announces date to hold MPC meeting

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced its forthcoming monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting.

In a statement on Tuesday, the CBN said its 296th MPC meeting between July 22 and 23.

The committee is the highest policy-making committee of the bank, led by Olayemi Cardoso, CBN governor.

The MPC meeting is set up to review the country’s economic and financial conditions and determine the appropriate monetary policy direction in the short to medium term.

At the last meeting held on May 20 and 21, the committee raised the monetary policy rate (MPR), which benchmarks interest rates from 24.75 percent to 26.25 percent.

The MPC retained the asymmetric corridor at +100 basis points and -300 basis points around the MPR.

The committee also retained the cash reserve ratio (CRR) at 45 percent for deposit money banks and 14 percent for merchant banks.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Cardoso had said the reason for the interest rate hike was to tame inflation.

He also said the committee’s efforts to contain inflation are yielding results.

On July 15, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its consumer price index (CPI) report for June, said Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 34.19 percent in June 2024 — up from 33.95 percent in May.

According to the bureau, the headline inflation rate in June showed an increase of “0.24% points when compared to the May 2024 headline inflation rate”.

NBS also said food inflation surged to 40.87 percent in the month under review as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

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Nigerians can now obtain UAE visas, says FG

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says Nigerians can now apply for and obtain visas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Idris said the federal government has reached an agreement with the UAE to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the Arab nation starting today, July 15.

The minister spoke with the State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, shortly after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting.

He said the agreement includes updated controls and conditions to be fulfilled before the issuance of a UAE visa.

On December 13, 2021, the UAE issued a travel restriction on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing a surge in the countries’ COVID-19 cases among passengers from the two African nations.

However, TheCable reported the travel ban might not be unconnected with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the Arab country.

Air Peace had requested a slot of three weekly flights from Nigeria to Sharjah Airport in the UAE, but only one was granted by the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA said Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport; the Nigerian airline, however, denied the claim.

In retaliation for Air Peace’s treatment in the UAE, the federal government dropped Emirate’s slots from 21 to one, leading to the Dubai-based airline suspending all its flights to Nigeria.

In September 2023, the federal government said the airline would resume services in Nigeria, signaling a resolution of the dispute.

The assurance followed a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mohamed bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates.

But since the meeting and the federal government’s announcement, Emirates has yet to begin scheduled flight operations.

In April, Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, said Emirates Airlines is prepared to resume flight operations to Nigeria.

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Bodex F. Hungbo, SPMIIM is a multiple award-winning Nigerian Digital Media Practitioner, Digital Strategist, PR consultant, Brand and Event Expert, Tv Presenter, Tier-A Blogger/Influencer, and a top cobbler in Nigeria.

She has widespread experiences across different professions and skills, which includes experiences in; Marketing, Media, Broadcasting, Brand and Event Management, Administration and Management with prior stints at MTN, NAPIMS-NNPC, GLOBAL FLEET OIL AND GAS, LTV, Silverbird and a host of others

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