The NCC has put the number of inactive telephone lines in the country at 40 million. That is a huge figure. I am suspecting that

Those 40 million inactive telephone lines in Nigeria

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The NCC has put the number of inactive telephone lines in the country at 40 million. That is a huge figure. I am suspecting that the bulk of those inactive lines have to do with ownership of multiple SIMs/lines. For starters, I have ten (10) GSM SIMs. Two are active at any point in time, usually, my primary line for voice, SMS and mobile internet, and a second for internet. Sometimes, a third for a mobile review. All the others are backup lines and stay dormant for the most part. Some of them are Mini SIM while others are Micro SIM. But the picture is that of eight (8) dormant lines for the most part.

In discussing this with others, I have had an individual mention to me that he owns twenty (20) lines and that he needs to do a complete inventory of these. Others have mentioned having up to six (6) lines as well. Surely, I cannot be far from the truth when I say that the bulk of those 40 million lines are the result of multiple SIM ownership. Perhaps the question now is, What leads to an individual owning ten or twenty mobile lines when he does not put half of them to use? I shall speak for myself here, and then you may speak for yourself in the comments.

Because of my responsibilities here at MOBILITY, I need a SIM card from each of the four GSM operators, so four SIMS are accounted for. Where did the remaining six come from? They come from networks and manufacturers who keep bundling SIM cards with phone sales packs under one promo or the other. I buy this phone, and there’s a SIM card bundled in it offering three months free internet. Of course, I activate the SIM to take advantage of the promo. Someone sends me another phone and there’s a SIM pack bundled with that too.

I hope that the strategists behind these sort of bundle offers read this. For the most part, your promo SIM card ends up in the hands of people who already have active lines, get activated for the benefit of the freebie, and once the freebie is over, gets dumped and eventually reverts to dormancy. I am not sure of how many new active customers that are made from such promos bundling SIM cards with phones. So, while such promos increase the number of lines in circulation, they do not necessarily convert to long term gains for the operator.

How many SIM cards do you have? How did you come about them? How many of them do you use regularly?


  1. Well. I do have seven SIM cards that I can account for at the moment, but only three are active at any point, micro SIM in Lumia solely for data use, two others for calls and SMS. Well, got two modems, with two SIM cards also, Airtel has the highest number, three, cos always subscribing to that three month Bis data plan. Don’t think my SIM cards acquiring days are behind me yet.

  2. I have got four SIMs at the moment (it used to be much more counting CDMA operators), I have an MTN personal line, Airtel for internet, a substitute MTN line and a glo line (rendered useless by the recent glo (MTN) tarriffs). I dont intend to acquire anymore.

  3. Just did an inventory of my SIM cards.

    1 Lebara (microSIM) – active
    1 T-mobile (miniSIM) – active
    1 MTN (miniSIM) – active

    1 Glo (microSIM) – inactive since last September
    2 Etisalat (miniSIM) – inactive since last September
    1 Vodafone (miniSIM) – inactive since last November
    1 T-mobile (microSIM) – inactive
    1 LycaMobile, 2 Lebara, 1 vodafone – still in their packs.

    In UK, you can even order several SIM cards from the company’s website and it will be posted to you, all for free.

  4. I have 3 SIM cards. 2 active, 1 dormant. The telecom carriers are partly to blame for inactive 40 million SIMs because of poor services that force subscribers to have multiple lines to fall back on.
    Criminals – robbers, yahoo-yahoo boys, assassins and general fraudsters – are also to blame because they must acquire and change lines frequently to avoid being tracked and arrested.

  5. I’ve got one MTN and Etisalat that are both active, and one glo and Etisalat that I haven’t touched since activating them.

  6. I ve 3 MTN sims: 1 for F&F,1 for MTN Pulse and last 1 for smooth talk. Also ve two glo lines(partly active),one etisalat line(in & out of handset) and two airtel lines(also partly active)

  7. 2 Etisalat sims- 1 for Data & internet Messaging, the other for calls. 1 MTN for Data,and sometimes. for calls. 1 Airtel for Data and calls,used less frequently. 1Glo used less frequently for Data and calls.
    Unfair tariff and poor network led to this mess.
    A greater challenge is the multiple SIM registeration we all did
    What are they doing with our multiple Information?

  8. 1 have 4 SIM cards i use on my 2 dual SIM phones.

    1. MTN, “quasi staff” line strictly for sending (free) sms
    2. Glo, Staff line and post paid. Internet capability disabled so only use up company monthly credit on it and then left idle for receiving calls.
    3. Glo, For internet browsing (data plan subscription) and making calls
    4.Airtel, For internet browsing (BIS data plan subscription) and making calls

  9. NCC needs to stop operators from bundling SIMS with phone or at least they should make it optional. The two SIMs I have that have been dormant were given to me compulsory.

    1MTN,1GLO and 2Etisalat
    1MTN, 1GLO and 1Etisalat

    All the SIMS are registered under my name and 2Etisalat SIMS (one for me and one for her)are now dormant.

    So blame the dormant SIMS on Etisalat because we didn’t want them in the first place all we needed was the phone.

  10. So blame the dormant SIMS on Etisalat because we didn’t want them in the first place all we needed was the phone.

    If you wanted only the phones and not the SIMs then the right place to have bought your phones is any of the phone shops around town and also be guaranteed your phone will not be locked to any network. Yes, I’m blaming you for buying a phones that are used to promote a network offerings and still expect them to come without SIMs.

  11. I have 8 sim cards. Only three are active. Two personal and one office line. Others are from the various promotions here and there from our telcos which are majorly dumped afterwards.

  12. I have Six sim cards.
    One airtel (micro sim) for my nokia 603.
    One glo and mtn (my very first sim bought in 2004) in my tecno N3.
    One mtn and airtel (micro sims) for my tablet.
    And finally an airtel sim for my modem.

  13. @Harry

    Even though you want me to buy unbranded phones, You cant blame me for buying a branded phone

    When I specifically told them that i already have Etisalat SIM and the phone is dual SIM, yet they compulsorily push the SIMS to me.

  14. Well, I have 3 active SIMs at the moment: 1 each of MTN,Airtel and Etisalat. The inactive SIM that has its place in my wallet is one micro-SIM from Glo.

  15. I’ve one MTN Ghana SIM (inactive since February), 2 MTN Nigeria (1 very active F&F, one sparingly used substitute on SmoothTalk), 1 Etisalat for Data and little talk, 1 very active Airtel for Data and Calls and an abandoned Glo (abandoned since Glo decided to shove me off Infinito without remorse. Their loss, I recharged more than 2k per week on that before I boycotted it). That makes 6 lines.

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