Nigeria May Temporarily Ban SIM-Card Sales To Boost Network Quality

Nigeria May Temporarily Ban SIM-Card Sales To Boost Network Quality

From Bloomberg via BDlive

Nigeria’s government may temporarily ban mobile phone companies from selling new SIM-cards to force greater investment in network quality by putting the brakes on soaring customer numbers.

“We’re not satisfied at all” with telecommunications service, Information and Communication Technology Minister Omobola Johnson said on Tuesday at a Renaissance Capital investment conference in Lagos. “Fines are just a slap on the wrist. We need to change behaviour.”

A ban on signing new customers may force companies to focus on improving infrastructure and quality of service for existing phone users, Mr Johnson said.

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator has repeatedly fined companies such as Johannesburg-based market leader MTN and Emirates Telecommunications or Etisalat, for failing to meet quality standards and to improve connections in Africa’s most populous nation.

“We take customer experience very seriously and have worked assiduously over the last 18 months to ensure we not only meet but surpass set quality of service measures,” Chineze Amanfo, a Lagos-based spokeswoman for Etisalat, said on Tuesday. “There are challenges that make this difficult in certain parts of the country where access or damage to telecommunications facilities remain a challenge.”

Etisalat, the fourth-largest carrier in the country, said its Nigerian unit secured a $1.2bn loan for expansion last year. Funmi Omogbenigun, a spokeswoman for MTN Nigeria, said she could not immediately comment when contacted by phone on Tuesday. Charles Ikoabasi, a spokesman for Globacom, and Bharti Airtel Nigeria CEO Segun Ogunsanya, did not immediately reply to e-mailed requests for comment.

Written by Chir Kay and Yinka Ibukun | Read more at BDlive