eSIM: Options Before NCC and MNOs

So, you might be wondering what’s up with the new iPhone 14. Well, here’s a rundown of everything that’s been happening around it lately!

The eSIM is still coming

Now that Apple has announced the iPhone 14 with support for embedded Subscriber Identification Modules (eSIM), and 5G, it is only a matter of time before Nigerians & Nigerian companies start making requests for the phones.

This is not the first time Apple is going that route. In 2019, it happened to be one of the two major smartphone manufacturers that announced several of their models were then equipped with eSIM functionality, then, iPhones XS, XS Max, XR and Google Pixel 3, became the first sets of higher end smartphones – supporting eSIMs.

eSIM is a new technology that allows you to use your phone without a physical sim card. It works by using your e-ID as an identity key rather than utilising an actual physical card or token — like a chip. 

This means you no longer need to carry around multiple cards or tokens like in previous generations of smartphones.

Yes, it has become a hot topic among original equipment or device manufacturers and its increasing role in the industry is clear –  as device manufacturers benefit from lower costs and more space on the processing board.

In fact, eSIMs have already become popular outside Nigeria as well as a few African countries such as South Africa and Kenya, which are among those who have adopted this technology early on because it offers loads of benefits over traditional forms of identification like pin numbers and others.

eSIM Implementation in Nigeria:

Although some countries are already implementing eSIM, in Nigeria, the uptake is yet to be fully flagged off. 

On November 02 2020, published a report about the provision by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for an approval for two mobile network operators (MNOs), MTN Nigeria and 9Mobile, to carry out a trial on the workability of e-SIM Service in Nigeria.

The trial, approved to run for a period of one year, involved testing 5,000 e-SIMs by the two networks, subject to compliance with a number of regulatory conditions.

These conditions include full compliance by the MNOs with the Registration of Telecoms Subscribers Regulations 2011 (now amended); the Mobile Number Portability Regulations and Business Rules 2015; Guidelines on SIM Replacement 2017; and non-degradation of the Quality of Service (QoS) experience by users of e-SIMs.

By 2025, GSMA estimates that more than 2 billion eSIM devices will be shipped. Undisputedly, NCC has always worked to put Nigeria’s telecoms sector ahead of cutting-edge technologies that can revolutionise consumer experience. And now is the time to again demonstrate the mettle. 

You might be wondering why we’re talking about eSim in this article. But before we get into that, it is important to understand what an eSim is and how it works.

As discussed in a previous article, eSIM is a technology that allows you to use one phone number across multiple devices. It allows users to connect their existing mobile phones with their new iPhones without having to worry about losing data or having problems connecting them after switching from an older device — which happens often. 

In essence, an eSIM acts as a bridge between two different networks: one being your current network; and another being whatever network you’re currently on when using Apple devices like iPhone 14 or iPad Pro 12″ Model A1561 (2018).

There’s been some progress made though – especially within the last few years where we’ve seen NCC make efforts towards encouraging Nigerians who own iPhones or iPads abroad before returning home because they need access to services such as internet banking while abroad too.

This is limiting innovation and growth of Nigeria’s digital economy especially when compared to other African countries or developed economies where e-Sim is already pervasive.

The Nigerian government is behind in eSIM adoption and it needs to catch up with other African countries, or developed economies already leveraging eSim.

The future of mobile phones lies in the eSIM technology which will allow users to replace their physical SIM card with a digital one that can be registered online or downloaded from their operator’s website. 

This will make life easier for Nigerians because it allows them to keep all their contacts, data and settings on one device instead of having multiple ones for different networks. It also saves them money as they don’t have to buy new phones every time they move between networks anymore!

This innovation could help Nigeria’s digital economy grow if its telecom industry grows too but this cannot happen without adequate infrastructure that supports fast 4G LTE speeds at reasonable prices — which would require more investment.

If Nigeria delays eSIM, it risks missing the opportunity for a better digital future

Nigeria must not lag behind other countries in the region that have already implemented eSIM. The opportunities are huge coupled with the launch of 5G in the country; Nigeria cannot afford to miss out on a better digital future that eSIM presents. 


It is important that all stakeholders work together to ensure that Nigeria gets its fair share of these new technologies so that we can continue to grow our economy through innovation and entrepreneurship.

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