BY CHARLES ABUEDE
Airtel Africa, which receives about 30 percent of its revenues from Airtel Nigeria has sent out a notice to investors and the public amid the ongoing directive by the federal government through the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) barring all phone numbers of subscribers not properly connected to their NIN information effective April 4, 2022.
The telecommunication giant said the directive is likely to produce a SIM consolidation situation, a process that could reduce any financial impact the directive may have on telcos revenues.
In a statement it filed to the Nigerian Exchange Airtel said it has collated the NIN information for 73 percent of its active subscribers and that this accounts for about 79 percent of the company’s revenues from Nigeria as the potential financial impact on the business in terms of customer numbers is uncertain.
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“Airtel Nigeria has now been notified that with effect from 4 April 2022, all SIMs that have not been linked to a NIN will be placed on ‘receive only’ status with immediate effect. Subscribers of such lines can still link their SIMs to their NINs in order that these restrictions can be lifted. Customers are therefore being given a final opportunity to fully comply with the latest registration requirements.
“We have made significant progress on capturing the NINs of our customers and building the database in collaboration with the NIMC. As of today, we have collated NIN information for 73 percent of our active customer base which accounts for around 79 percent of our revenues from Nigeria. The impact on the business in terms of customer numbers and revenues is uncertain. However, our experience of adopting similar procedures in other countries suggests that SIM consolidation is likely to occur in response to implementation, potentially reducing any financial impact,” Airtel said in a disclosure.
Meanwhile, in December 2020, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) issued a directive to all Nigerian telecom operators to ensure that subscribers’ information on the network’s database is linked to their NINs. This process involves subscribers providing their valid National Identification Numbers (NINs) to update SIM registration records. To complete the registration process, operators must link the NIN information received with the SIM of the respective subscribers and share the same with the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).
Following the directive, the original regulatory directive set an initial deadline for customers to register their NIN with their SIM of 30 December 2020. This was subsequently moved several times, with the latest deadline set for 31 March 2022.
However, in the latest results for the nine-month period to 31 December 2021, Airtel Nigeria had an active customer base of 42.4 million and posted revenues of $1.4 billion spurred by a significant 9.1 percent and 35.9 percent in voice and data revenues to $717 million and $539 million respectively.
Accordingly, Airtel’s voice revenue grew by 16 percent, driven by an increase in voice usage per customer of 23.1 percent with voice ARPU growth of 23 percent. The year-on-year decline in the customer base of 2 million was due to the implementation of new “Know-Your-Customer” (KYC) requirements in Nigeria, which initially included a temporary halt to new customer activations. Also, data revenue growth continued to be a key driver of growth in Nigeria, growing by 44.5 percent in constant currency, driven by the growth in data usage per customer to 4GB per month.
The wireless carrier said with regards to the disconnection directive by the federal government, it will continue to work with impacted customers to help them to comply with the registration requirements and continue to benefit from full-service connectivity.