Introduction of E-SIM in Nigeria

When the first SIM card was created in 1991, it was a marvel. It has endured for nearly 30 years, allowing more than 7 billion digital devices to link up to cellular networks globally.

But very soon, you may not need your physical SIM card. The newly launched eSIM will make connectivity to mobile devices a breeze anywhere you go.

What is an eSIM and how does it work?

Like you should know, SIM stands for Subscriber Identity Module. It contains your phone number and other coded information that enables you to dial into a telecom provider’s network.

On the other hand, an eSIM is an embedded SIM. Instead of putting a physical card into your phone, you will use a small electronic chip that comes with the device (such as smartphones, tablets, smart devices, and computers). This tiny electrical component allows you to confirm your identity when you connect to the nearest telecom cell tower.

The software can only be activated by a cellular network provider. During the registration process, the provider programs the subscriber’s data (such as phone number) into the SIM. More than one provider can program data into a single eSIM and old subscriber data can be deleted from it.

At the beginning of the activation process, the phone will scan a QR code. The telecom company will also give the subscriber a user interface that may function like an app.

Why would eSIM be considered as a better option?

With a physical SIM card, you can only use your provider’s network or other networks registered within the country. Therefore, when you travel outside the country or visit a place without network coverage, you can’t use your phone to communicate.

With an eSIM, however, you don’t have to swap SIM cards or phones. A big plus for embedded SIMs is the ease with which you can switch from one carrier to another. If you use two SIMs on your phone, eSIM technology allows multiple accounts so you can easily switch from one provider to another.

Whenever you are traveling, you don’t need to wait for a local provider to send you a new SIM. You can contact a new carrier directly from your phone. There’ll be no break in mobile internet services. 

Also, currently, Nigeria’s mobile internet traffic stands at just over 85 million users, with expected growth in the future. With a recent report by OpenSignal showing that the country is ranked at 80th out of 87 nations in terms of quality of 4G connections, that implies millions of mobile phone users are yearning for faster connections. With eSIM better and more flowing connections can be provided, that can improve customer’s experience users thrive for.

The reason for investing in internet connection improvements lies in statistics obtained from a recent SimilarWeb listing on 50 most visited websites by Nigerians show that 9 are news sites, 6 are social media sites, and 5 are sports and gambling websites, which have been going up in rankings over the past few years, reflecting a growing demand for phones that can manage the processing demands of gaming. 

According to Reuters (2018), despite the slow internet connection, mobile online gambling is growing in popularity in the country. In fact, many gambling affiliates  list the speed of the gaming operator as the primary reason for playing there versus any other place. Games that can work well on mobile even with a slower connection as they are not too graphically demanding, contribute to a great user experience. This problem can be circumvented by establishing eSIM. All providers can benefit from it by investing more in website improvements to better customer’s experience which can be supported by faster connections.

When was eSIM Introduced in Nigeria?

The embedded SIM card is now available in Nigeria, thanks to MTN Nigeria Plc, one of the leading mobile telephony companies. This is the first country to start using eSIM technology in West Africa.

On July 15, 2020, the Chief Operating Officer of MTN, Mazen Mroue, said that eSIMs are supported by smartphones, wearables, and other devices. 

However, the regulations are similar for both physical and embedded SIMs. That means SIM registration is still a requirement for activating a phone line on a device that has eSIM capability.

Which Phones Support eSIM Service?

For now, not many phone manufacturers have the eSIM and required software on their devices. But those who are leading the way are Google, Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Lenovo, Huawei, and NUU Mobile. Some of the models that support eSIM registration include:

* Apple iPhone 11 series

* Apple iPhone XS series

* Apple iPhone XR

* Google Pixel 3 series

* Google Pixel 4 series

* Samsung S20 series

Those who have devices that support this technology can participate in the eSIM trial project launched by MTN. According to Mroue, during the first year, just 5000 subscribers are expected to use the service. 

What Are the Main Benefits of Using an eSIM?

The eSIM revolution will eventually take root in the telecom industry. By 2025, estimates obtained from a study show that over 2 billion eSIM devices will be shipped. By making the switch to eSIM you will be ahead of the pack. Some of the following benefits should further encourage you considering the switch.

  1. Reliability: eSIMs don’t wear out and you don’t have to cut them or look for a special SIM holder when you are switching from one phone to another.
  2. Future Proof: eSIMs don’t need to be swapped for better ones. In the Google Pixel 3, the eSIM can be activated instantly on networks that support it. When you travel abroad, you will be ready to connect to mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) like Google Fi. It is expected that more networks in Nigeria and other countries will support eSIMs in the next few years.
  3. Better Design: Phone designers can now make more attractive and sophisticated phones. The phones may not even have any borders since you may never need to insert a SIM or take out the battery.
  4. Constant Network Availability: Wherever you go, you can call a telecom company with eSIM support and ask for a connection. You will not need to buy a SIM card any time you visit another country.


The eSIM revolution has just started. Just like the popularity of the smartphone has increased over the last few years, more telecom companies, within and outside Nigeria, will soon support eSIM enabled devices and the future for eSIM is arguably a bright one.

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Ifiokobong Ibanga

Ifiokobong Ibanga is the founder of You can get in touch with him on Instagram @ifiokobong. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly send a message. Much Love!

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