The federal government is firming up plans to track mobile communication devices in Nigeria and has announced Request For Qualification (RFQ) From prospective operators to operate under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Bidders are to apply for deployment of “a single window Device Management System (DMS),” the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) published in a New Notice Wednesday 4, 2022.
“The proposed DMS will provide a single control point for comprehensive device management for mobile communication devices in Nigeria.
“Specifically, the proposed DMS will support capabilities for tracking of mobile communication devices to eliminate fake and substandard devices, provide detailed statistical information for stakeholders use, and support the fight against cybercrime and insecurity.”
The telecom regulator is asking “interested firms and/or consortium of firms to participate in the qualification process for the selection of a Private Sector Operator through a Competitive Bidding process for the “Deployment of a Device Management System (DMS)”.
Last year, the NCC announced government’s approval for the Revised National Policy for SIM Card Registration released May 11 triggering controversies with critics fearing that government was planning to ‘rig’ subscribers’ mobile devices.
Part of the newly approved policy states: “implementation of a Centralized Equipment Identity and Register (CEIR), otherwise known as Device Management System (DMS) will serve as a repository for keeping records of all registered mobile phones’ International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) and owners of such devices.”
Nigeria’s telecom space is a security nightmare
With over 184 million mobile subscribers. Africa’s largest telecom market poses challenges to governments, regulators and operators amidst rising cases of kidnapping for ransom, stolen phones, and terrorism among others.
Authorities believe the deployment of DMS will help to curtail kidnappings, enhance national security; tame the counterfeit mobile phone market, discourage mobile phone theft, and ultimately, protect consumer interest. The DMS will facilitate blocking or tracing of stolen mobile phones and other smart devices.
India already tracking phones
The Indian government in 2019 launched the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) leveraging the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) database to track lost or stolen phones. With about1.2 billion active connections, India is the second most populous market for mobile phones in the world.
The IMEI number is a unique 15-digit code that precisely identifies the device with the SIM card input. The DMS for Nigeria is designed to work in a similar.