MTN in Nigeria now has a couple more weeks to update and link the SIM cards of up to 30 million of its users with their ID numbers, after the telecoms regulator extended the deadline for the registration process.

The Nigerian Communications Commission previously gave mobile operators a tight deadline of 31 December – and threatened to cut off users who aren’t verified, and to strip mobile companies of their licences if they don’t comply.

The new deadline is 9 February for subscribers without a NIN (National Identification Number) number and 19 January for users with a NIN. Mobile operators campaigned for a six-month extension.

Bloomberg reports that while Nigeria has 196 million active numbers, only between 40 million to 60 million Nigerians have identity numbers. MTN recently received a licence to register Nigerians on the NIN database, which will give them identity numbers as part of the process.

Earlier this month the national communications regulator, at the behest of the country’s communications minister Isa Ali Ibrahim, ordered all mobile operators in the country to immediately halt the sale, registration and activation of new SIM cards while it embarks on an industry wide audit to ensure that mobile operators comply with the country’s new SIM card registration requirements.

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