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e-SIM Evolution: What You Need To Know To Activate It On MTN, Airtel, 9Mobile

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Following the recent announcement by Airtel Nigeria, three out of the four mobile network operators in Nigeria are now offering eSIM (embedded SIM) service. The two others are MTN Nigeria and 9mobile, who were the first telecom operators approved by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to commence the trial of the service in 2020.

eSIM is seen as the next step in the evolution of Subscriber Identity Modules (SIM cards) as it is designed to deliver unprecedented freedom and flexibility.

Unlike the physical SIM, you do not need to insert an eSIM into your phone as it is already built into your smartphone, device or wearable. You simply activate the eSIM with your account profile and you are ready to enjoy all the services you normally would with a physical SIM.

Benefits of eSIM

eSIM allows you to have more than one phone number assigned to your smart device. It is beneficial for people who want to manage personal and business lines.

The possibility of losing or damaging your SIM is reduced because it is built into your device.
You no longer have to deal with cutting SIM cards or finding adapters.
eSIM allows the use of multiple mobile numbers, both physical and eSIMs on one device. This reduces the hassle of going about with multiple devices.
It eliminates the frequent complaints of damage or loss of SIM cards.
Frequent travellers will find the eSIM very convenient for switching network operators at a much easier rate.

How to activate an eSIM

To activate an eSIM, you need to first have a compatible phone. Currently, eSIM-enabled phones are still limited. However, a number of the latest devices from the top mobile manufacturers are built with this capability.

The following devices and their new models are eSIM enabled:

Apple iPhone XS and newer models
Samsung Galaxy S-series from S20
Samsung Galaxy Note series from Note20
Google Pixel 2 and more recent models
Samsung Galaxy Z and Galaxy Fold devices

The activation of eSIM on the networks of MTN, 9mobile and Airtel follows a similar pattern:

To activate an eSIM on MTN, you must visit any MTN store. The company’s customer care agents will check your device for eligibility and walk you through the setup process.

For 9mobile, the customer is also expected to walk into select 9Mobile Experience Centres and request an eSIM activation. A QR code will be provided to scan and download an eSIM profile and perform the usual SIM registration.

Airtel also requires you to visit any of its Service Centres where the customer care agents will walk you through the process of setting up your eSIM.


Note that an eSIM also requires a registration like the physical SIM. Also, a subscriber can convert his or her current physical SIM to an eSIM and vice versa.

(TechDigest, excluding headline)

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