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Nigeria - Premium SMS, Short Code Requirements


The regulations in Nigeria caters and covers all of the Mobile Payment types, that include Premium SMS BillingStandard Rate Services and Short Codes.




The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is the independent National Regulatory Authority for the telecommunications industry in Nigeria. The Commission is responsible for creating an enabling environment for competition among operators in the industry as well as ensuring the provision of qualitative and efficient telecommunications services throughout the country. The Nigerian Communications Commissions' mission is to support a market driven telecommunications industry and promote universal access. NCC will achieve this through the consistent enforcement of clear and fair policies that protect stakeholders, ensure efficient resource management, share industry best practices and deliver affordable, quality telecom services.


For information regarding shared codes in Nigeria please see Nigeria - Shared Short Code Requirements and Restrictions for more details.



mtn_logo.jpg  MTN


 airtel-account-login.jpg  Airtel (Zain*)


Glo-logo.jpg   Globacom (Glo**)


Logo_Visafone.png   Viasfone


* Zain was acquired by Bharti Airtel and rebranded for the sixth time to 'Airtel'.

** Globacom can also be known as Glo. Important note: Payment from Globacom can take in excess of 365 days, ensure you factor this in when deciding if to launch with this carrier. 



MTN Nigeria is part of the MTN Group, Africa's leading cellular telecommunications company. On May 16, 2001, MTN became the first GSM network to make a call following the globally lauded Nigerian GSM auction conducted by the Nigerian Communications Commission earlier in the year. Thereafter the company launched full commercial operations beginning with Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.


Globacom state "When Globacom launched in Nigeria in 2003, they had the vision to be the market leading service provider in Nigeria and they also aspire to build Africa’s biggest and best telecommunications network. With over 25 million subscribers, Globacom have realized the dream of being Nigeria’s leading service provider. And through extending their coverage into other African countries like the Republic of Benin, Ghana and the Ivory Coast, Globacom are well on track to achieving our goal of being the biggest and best telecommunications network in Africa."


Airtel Nigeria started operations as Econet Nigeria. Econet was rebranded to Vodacom, South Africa’s second largest telecommunication brand. However, Vodacom did not last a week in the Nigeria. The development prompted Nigeria’s first GSM brand to operate in the country without identifiable corporate name and strategy for over two months. The circumstances created Vmobile, which was made up of a group of Nigerian entrepreneurs who vowed never to let the brand exit without a fight. They (Vmobile) led the unbranded Vmobile to the threshold of MTC, owners of Celtel brand that later acquired the Vmobile and rebranded it, Celtel in Nigeria.


Voted The Best ICT Company and Best Telecom Brand in Nigeria for 2008, Visafone Communications Ltd (hereinafter to be referred to as Visafone or “the Company) was born out of the strategic acquisition of 3 CDMA mobile network operators that had been in operation for up to 8 years with 30,000 subscribers and coverage in different parts of Nigeria.

The company, which was incorporated in Nigeria on June 20, 2007 following the acquisition of Cellcom received its Unified Access Service Licence as a telecom operator from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) on August 1, 2007 positioned it to offer mobile, fixed and any other telecommunications service to its subscribers.



Nationality: noun: Nigerian(s) adjective: Nigerian
Population: 155,215,573 (July 2011 est.)
Annual growth rate: 1.935% (2011 est.)
Languages: English (official), Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo (Ibo), Fulani, over 500 additional indigenous languages

Flag: nigeria_flag.gif


Area: Total: 923,768 sq km. Land: 910,768 sq km. Water: 13,000 sq km
Cities: Lagos 10.203 million; Kano 3.304 million; Ibadan 2.762 million; ABUJA (capital) 1.857 million; Kaduna 1.519 million (2009)
Terrain: southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus; mountains in southeast, plains in north
Climate: varies; equatorial in south, tropical in center, arid in north


Type: Federal Republic
Independence: 1 October 1960 (from the UK)
Constitution: adopted 5 May 1999; effective 29 May 1999
Branches: chief of state: President Goodluck JONATHAN; head of government: President Goodluck JONATHAN; Vice President Mohammed Namadi SAMBO (since 19 May 2010); cabinet: Federal Executive Council Political parties: Accord Party; Action Congress of Nigeria or ACN ; All Nigeria Peoples Party or ANPP; All Progressives Grand Alliance or APGA; Alliance for Democracy or AD ; Conference of Nigerian Political Parities or CNPP ; Congress for Progressive Change or CPC; Democratic Peoples Party or DPP; Fresh Democratic Party; Labor Party; National Democratic Party or NDP; Peoples Democratic Party or PDP ; Peoples Progressive Alliance 
Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal 


GDP: $377.9 billion (2010 est.)
Annual growth rate: 8.4% (2010 est.)
Per capita GDP: $2,500 (2010 est.)
Natural resources: natural gas, petroleum, tin, iron ore, coal, limestone, niobium, lead, zinc, arable land
Arable land: 33.02%
Agriculture: cocoa, peanuts, cotton, palm oil, corn, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava (tapioca), yams, rubber; cattle, sheep, goats, pigs; timber; fish
Industry: crude oil, coal, tin, columbite; rubber products, wood; hides and skins, textiles, cement and other construction materials, food products, footwear, chemicals, fertilizer, printing, ceramics, steel
Trade: Export- US 35.08%, India 10.43%, Brazil 9.32%, Spain 7.19%, France 4.65% (2009) 



Market Growth


General Region↓ Total number of Internet users (thousands)↓ Internet Users per 100 inhab↓ Total population (thousands)↓ GDP per capita↓ GDP total (thousands)↓ Mobile Subscribers per 100 inhab.↓ Total number of mobile subscribers (thousands)↓


Africa 43.989 8.16 155215.573 391236.307 377900000 41.7 65800
  [source] [source] [source] [source] [source]  [source] [source] [source]



The naira (sign: ₦; code: NGN) is the currency of Nigeria. It is subdivided into 100 kobo.

100NGN in £GBP

100NGN in $USD

100NGN in €EUR


Approval Process

As part of the application process for a Nigerian short code you will need to complete both application forms which can be found at the bottom of this page. The typical time for service approval form feedback is on average 1 day and the typical time to get live once your application forms are approved is roughly 3 months.


Promotional Guidelines

Adverts are usually in English, however there are more than 500 languages used in Nigeria, which are spoken by different tribes and groups. Though English is the official language of Nigeria, yet more than 50% of the people of Nigeria can not speak in it. It is commonly used for conducting official affairs. It is important to note that every tribe in Nigeria culture has got its own language, which they prefer following among themselves. The most popular local Nigerian languages are Yoruba, Edo, Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, Tiv, Kanuri, Ibibio. Among these the North Nigerian languages are Kanuri, Tiv and Hausa while the languages spoken in Southern part of Nigeria are Igbo, Edo, Yoruba and Ibibio. 

It is standard practice for both Premium and bulk campaigns to include:

- Price displayed in local format, e.g. Nxx + standard network rates", e.g "Text ABC to 12345. Cost: N50 + standard network rates.

- Price immediately following the shortcode / keywords.

- Price in at least 50% font size of the shortcode / keywords.

- Service promoted by {insert your address, p.o. box numbers not allowed}.

- "This is not a subscription service"

- "Need help? {Insert email address or use}."

- Include STOP information for bulk services, within the sms message.


These guidelines are set about to provide a frame work for the operation of short codes, licensing of Content Aggregator's and for protection against misuse, they apply to Network Operators, Content Aggregator's and Content Service Providers.

As per section 4.1 through to section 4.4 of the Short Code Guidelines.

The Commission or the Industry Group may upon an application by a network operator or content aggregator grant authorization for use of the Short Code in a non discriminatory manner. Such authorization does not entitle a content aggregator to own a Network for the purpose of distributing content, and neither does it entitle it to distribute content directly to End Users. The Commission or Industry Group shall allocate bulk short codes free of charge and Network operator/Content Aggregator shall also assign to service providers free of charge subject to the following criteria:

  • Fairness and transparency in assignment
  • Proper usage/proper purpose

The network operators or content aggregators shall ensure proper usage of the numbers and assign the codes, in a fair and transparent manner. They will also ensure that codes are used for the purpose for which they were assigned.

As per section 5.2 through to section 5.8 of the Short Code Guidelines.

Network operators and content aggregators will be primarily responsible for the contravention of any of the provision of these Guidelines and will face appropriate sanctions where applicable.

Network operators and content aggregators must ensure that service providers give the highest level of service to the consumer and those consumers:

  • have sufficient information to enable them make informed decisions about using Short Codes.
  • have a convenient, fair and efficient means of resolving complaints arising in respect of content services using the availability of an independent complaints handling mechanism.
  • are sufficiently informed of the nature, prices, terms and conditions of using the Short Codes at the time of sale, in advertising and while using the services.
  • can distinguish content considered suitable only for adults or which should not be made available to children.
  • can readily access unsubscribe mechanism for each content service, to discontinue a service and avoid incurring further charges, without undue delay. Where refund is considered the licensee shall make the refund via the same medium or mode through which the amount was received.

No content service shall be promoted as being “free” if it is obtainable only by the use of premium rate service involving a charge to the customer.

Text messages sent to short codes and received by consumers must be stored by the network operators and service providers for a period of six (6) months or any period determined to be reasonable by the service provider; but not less than six (6) month.

All subscription terms and billing interval must be specified and there shall be no hidden charges, any associated charges for services rendered shall be disclosed.

The terms and conditions of service must outline the refund arrangements where the competition mechanism or voting conditions changes prior to entry.

The Network Operator and Content Aggregators shall submit Service Level Agreement or any other agreement with the networks operators to the Commission or the industry group, whichever is applicable. 

As per section 5.10 in the Short Code Guidelines.

The network provider and content aggregator shall maintain a customer support where complaints would be addressed within a reasonable time frame. In a situation where a complaint is not considered, reasons of decision must be conveyed to the complainant within a reasonable period of time.

As per section 6.1 through to 6.7 of the Short Code Guidelines.

Advertising and Promotions:

  • All advertising and promotional materials must clearly include the name(s) and contact details of network operators and content aggregators.
  • The system must not be used to disseminate offensive, obscene or seditious information.
  • All terms and conditions including pricing information must be clearly spelt out and conspicuously displayed.
  • All advertisements and promotions must clearly indicate whether a service is a subscription or not; terms and condition of programme clearly stated and service pricing information clearly and conspicuously indicated.
  • All advertising promotional materials, and service help message shall clearly display the consumers right to “opt in” or “opt out” of any promotion, programme or service, whether subscription based or otherwise.
  • The Network operator shall build safeguard measures to the satisfaction of the Commission to ensure no sexually suggestive or explicit material is transmitted in the course of the service.
  • Content Aggregator's shall implement appropriate mechanisms to ensure and make available by appropriate means at least two methods of directly contacting the service provider. In this regard, all advertisement must include the name, telephone numbers and contact details of the relevant content provider.

As per section 7.1 of the Short Code Guidelines.
Any dispute arising as a result of the operation of these Guidelines shall be resolved by the Commission or the industry group within a reasonable period of time.


Religious Services:

Nigeria has two main religions that can often be the topic of controversy in Premium Services. We do not prevent these services operating, however, they must be reviewed and approved in full, prior to going live.

Christian related services can operate with our approval, however any Islamic service must be sent for approval to the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs of Nigeria (SCIAN). We can submit such services on your behalf, however, please be aware that this process could increase the lead time to your service going live.


Message Flow Requirements

As per section 3.4 of the Short Code Guidelines.

The following categories of message shall not be classified as premium; any SMS containing help or error or messages requesting for information or stopping a service; the network operator shall not charge the End User.

There are currently no specific regulatory documents available for Nigeria - Message Flow Requirements, however your application forms will be evaluated to ensure that your service is delivering value for money and is honest and fair.


Service Types

As per section 3.3 of the Short Code Guidelines.

Short Codes assigned for emergency services to the Nigerian Police, Fire Service Brigade and Hospitals or any other agency for government dealing with security and intelligence matters shall be common to all operators and not attract any fees or charge usage by the consumer. All other categories of short codes shall be classified as premium and the operator in conjunction with the service provider will determine applicable fees.

As per section 5.9 of the Short Code Guidelines.

Where the types of services contemplated by the service providers require authorization from other government agencies; such authorization shall first be obtained.

Campaigns of a Political or Government related nature are strictly forbidden in Nigeria. 

In addition to the above, your CCF will be evaluated to ensure that your service is delivering value for money and is honest and fair.


        > Nigerian Communications Commission

The attention of the Commissions has been drawn to the Consumer Code of Practice Regulations, 2007 (CCPR) particularly as it relates to the unsolicited Telemarketing on national networks.

To address these concerns, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has demanded the immediate implementation of measures to ensure that the VAS platform is not abused. To enable us to ensure full compliance with the NCC's directives, we hereby request strict adherence with the following:

- VAS SMS for any new service should only be disseminated to customers who have opted-in to receive such. For existing customers, the option to opt-out free of charge must always be kept open. 

- In the event where a customer has opted-in to receive SMS, the frequency of such SMS must be limited so as not to become a nuisance to the customer. The timing must also be reasonable. The NCC has directed that SMS should only be delivered to customers strictly between the hours of 8AM AND 8PM.

- The content of all SMS must be in conformity with the applicable statutory and regulatory provisions, as well as the terms of the VAS contract.

- On no account should spam SMS be sent to customers. MTN will implement measures to forestall the delivery of spam SMS to our customers. We request that all VAS partners take similar measures to prevent the dissemination of spam SMS through their respective platforms and reserve the right to take appropriate enforcement and protective measures if this regulatory requirement is breached.


Billing Types

We operate on a Mobile Originated (MO) billed line on our dedicated lines in Nigeria. See forum entry "What are the SMS billing types available?" for more information on these billing types.


Opt-in Process

- Premium transactions require a single Opt-in. (SMS-O or WO-RAR).

- Non-premium services and Premium subscriptions are not available because of the MO billed codes.


Short Codes and Keywords

For our dedicated shortcodes in Nigeria, we operate on a 5 digit shortcode for each carrier, XXX10. The full short code is provided on application. Adult content is not available in Nigera. The typical patterns for short codes in Nigeria are codes starting with 35 for 100 NGN, 33 for 50 NGN and 31 for 30 NGN e.g

35XXX = 100 NGN

33XXX = 50 NGN

31XXX = 30 NGN

"Golden numbers", where you can request a specific short code are not available in Nigeria. You are assigned a random shortcode on application. 


Frequency and Amounts

There are currently no limits to messages sent per code per week, in Nigeria. There are currently no specific regulatory documents available for Nigeria - Frequency and Amounts, however your CCF will be evaluated to ensure that your service is delivering value for money and is honest and fair.



The current Nigeria rate of tax is available via Wikipedia. The out-payments on our rate cards are exclusive of VAT, so if you are VAT registered you can claim a higher outpayment than is shown.


Dedicated Codes 

Dedicated codes are available with a 3 - 6 month lead time depending on carrier availability, the carriers approve based on their backlog, the time of year, price point and service type. You can read more about Short Code Coverage, SMS Billing Services and Mobile Payments in Nigeria via the txtNation Gateway.

Nigeria has the following Mobile Payment options available, all of which fall under these regulations.

  • Premium SMS (P-SMS) including Short Code services

Additional options for Mobile Payments and Messaging in Nigeria include:

  • HLR Lookup
  • Bulk SMS
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