Mobile Number Portability in Nigeria

The Nigerian Communication Commission(NCC) set up a directive to implement the Mobile Number Portability(MNP) Initiative for all Telecom Operators operating in Nigeria. While the initiative was originally planned for sometime in 2007, I am still quite excited by the prospect of MNP being implemented in Nigeria. Currently the NCC has set a ‘Go-Live’ for the MNP project for sometime in Q1 2013 and considering how far each of the operators has gone in the implementation of the required solutions I believe I can confidently state that Nigerians will soon be able to switch networks while keeping their number.

Now firstly a brief introduction to MNP. According to Wikipedia:

Mobile number portability (MNP) enables mobile telephone users to retain their mobile telephone numbers when changing from one mobile network operator to another.

This means that you can carry your Glo Number ( For example: 0805700000x) and migrate the number to the MTN Network and enjoy all of MTNs offerings while maintaining the same number. Mobile Number Portability is basically a SIM SWAP across different networks.

MNP in Nigeria , as directed by the NCC, will be using ‘Recipient-Led Porting’. This means that the subscriber who wants to change his network (  from say Glo, technically termed the Donor to say MTN, technically termed the Recipient) will need to go to the Recipient Network so that that Network will handle the Porting process. MNP in India and UK use ‘Donor-Led Porting’ ( where a subscriber has to approach the network they want to LEAVE before being approved to migrate by  provision of a Porting Authorization Code). I must state here that a ‘Donor-Led’ implementation would never have worked in Nigeria. An NCC Sponsored ‘Clearing House’ is responsible for coordinating the entire Port process between the involved operators.

On the SMS/Call routing side, a Central DB will be distributed to each of the operators so that they can query the DB in real time to determine which network to route a call or an SMS to for a particular subscriber.This is known as the All-Call-Query/CDB Routing method.

The NCC has set and documented a framework for the implementation for the MNP Solution and it is very clearly written with all scenarios taken into consideration. MNP in Nigeria will also be free but you will be restricted to a single successful Port every 90 days

The Nigerian MNP Implementation states the following process for the Port Process:

  1. Pre-Order Process: At this time a subscribers walks into the Recipient Network and requests to port his number. He is introduced to the MNP process and given the necessary forms to fill. After the Recipient Network Customer Rep stores the Port request and sends the request to the Clearing House for Processing. The subscriber is also instructed to send an SMS to a short code to confirm that he requested the particular Port. The subscriber is given a blank SIM which, if everything goes well, will become his SIM on the new network ( still with his current Phone number)
  2. Initial Order Validation: At this step, the Clearing House confirms that the Port request ( from the Recipient Network) and the subscriber SMS ( from the Port subscriber) come in within the specified time period( I believe this is currently set as 2 working days). Once this is done, the Clearing House validates that you have not violated any of the MNP Business Rules ( that you have not ported within the last 90 days) as well as that the Subscriber wishing to Port has a registered Number. Once all this validations are passed, the Clearing House sends a request to the Donor to confirm that the Subscriber wanting to Port be given permission to ( by accepting the Port out request)
  3. Donor Validation: At this stage, the Donor network validates whether a subscriber can leave their network. The NCC stipulates very strict reject reasons controlling why a subscriber NOT be allowed to port ( I believe this only includes Phones numbers that have been reported Stolen or Lost). Once the Donor accepts the Port, the Donor responds to the Clearing House with the confirmation of acceptance. If the Port is rejected, an SMS is sent to the subscriber informing them of the Failed port ( with the reason for failure)
  4. Porting Provisioning: At this stage the Clearing House informs the recipient network that the Subscriber can be ‘Provisioned’ ( i.e. created on the requisite systems to enable the subscriber use the basic services on the Recipient network). Also note at this stage the subscriber is available on 2 Networks. Once the subscriber has been provisioned on the Recipient Network, the network responds to the Clearing House. The Clearing House will then ‘broadcast’ the new Subscriber details to every other Network on the MNP Process so that calls originating from that network can be routed accordingly. The Clearing House sends an SMS to the subscriber that he can now insert the SIM given to him in step (1) into a phone.
  5. Porting Closure: At this stage, the subscriber has been successfully created on the Recipient network BUT the subscriber is also still active on the Donor Network. The Clearing House will send a request to the Donor network to close the Port. The donor will then proceed to de-activate the subscriber from all the Donor Network systems ( the subscriber most likely will not be deleted from all systems). Note that if the Porting Provisioning fails, the Clearing House still sends the Porting Closure request to the Donor but instead informs the Donor to leave the Subscriber untouched. When subscriber de-activation is done, the donor informs the Clearing House and the Port is completed.

In my coming posts I will be analysing the technical details and challenges for each of the above listed processes.

I welcome all comments/questions!


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‘Who chose this bush?’- A review of the ‘The Killing Swamp’ Stage Play

I  was recently opportuned to watch the stage play of ‘The Killing Swamp’ by Adinoyi Ojo Onukaba at the Terra Kulture Theatre. The book/play is an ‘imaginative dramatization of the final hours of Ken Saro Wiwa, the Nigerian writer and environmental activist hanged on the 10th of November,1995 with eight others for the alleged murder of four(4) pro-government chiefs‘.

Firstly the author must admit that he had not, at the time of watching the play, done any significant research on the Ogoni 9 but every NIgerian alive is aware of the current struggle of the Niger-Delta region and the people living therein. One thing I can say though, regardless of my lack of research, that it is unfortunate and sad to see any sort of Amnesty program for the current militants of the Niger Delta ( not that I am completely opposed to the current Amnesty program but I AM opposed to the current implementation of the program) while the very first ‘intellectual militants’ were managed in such a dishonourable fashion.

Back to the play, I am guessing by the description of the play ( as an ‘imaginative dramatization’ ) that the events depicted were not factual but the wit, humour and sarcasm of the play are a tribute to the legend of the man, Ken Saro Wiwa. The acting was very good ( although some of the actors seems to mix up their lines , but after watching near-perfect performances of other plays by the same actors, this is forgiveable) especially that of Keneth Uphopho. Keneth plays the role of Ken Saro Wiwa( or ‘Kenule’ as used in the play) and I must say that I am quite impressed with his performances. His ability to play both vengeful and sadistic characters as well as intelligent and thoughtful characters is quite unique. As well as the mans voice.

The play centres on the conversation between Kenule, his hangman( played by Sola Roberts Iwaotan, another amazing actor), the hangman’s foot-servant as well as Kenules woman being played out in the scenery of a ‘bush near the prison’. One of the recurring themes of the play is the question of ‘Who chose this bush’? A question posed by Kenule to his hangman and associate, referring to the haste,rashness and inappropriate location involved in executing his ‘sentence as decided by a court of law’.

Although quite short (I think the play lasts for about 35-50 minutes), the play is quite fulfilling. Through witty, humorous and enlightening dialogue, you are taken through a fictional re-enactment of the last moments of Ken Saro Wiwa and as you walk out of the theatre you can imagine Ken Saro Wiwa asking Shell Petroleum Development Company, the Abacha Government and his actual hangmen… ‘Who chose this bush?’

Another review of this play by the Vanguard Newspapers can be found here.

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3rd World Progamming Logs

My aim is to document my learning process as a Software programmer in a 3rd World Country, including the numerous challenges faced. Software Development, in any sense, is hard and has ‘No Silver Bullet’ but I aim to further highlight the additional problems faced by programmers in ‘Under-developed’ countries. But 1 thing I don’t want to be doing is seen to be making excuses. Even as I believe that Software Developers in 3rd world countries face a daunting task to develop ‘Developed’ & quality software, I insist that the only real way to overcome these difficulties is to face them with some form of Nietzscheanism…  ‘What does not destroy you only makes you stronger’.

So here goes….


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