Days numbered for counterfeit handsets
GOVERNMENT| Sept. 10, 2011, 2:22 p.m.
By Carole Kimutai, Nairobi, Kenya
Kenyan authorities have unveiled their plan for phasing out the use of counterfeit and grey market handsets in the country.
The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) held a consultative meeting Friday 9th September 2011 with Kenya’s four mobile network operators, government agencies (Kenya Bureau of Standards, Anti-Counterfeit Agency, Office of the President, Kenya Police and the National Security Intelligence Service (NSIS), and the Kenya Revenue Authority, and equipment manufacturer Nokia to discuss the way forward on the phasing out of the use of counterfeit mobile handsets in Kenya.
According to statistics from CCK, out of 25.2million subscribers in Kenya, 9.39 percent are using counterfeit handsets. Use of counterfeit handsets denies holders of Intellectual Property rights of their legal right to benefit from the fruits of their innovations, exposes consumers to health and security risks, and denies the Kenya government revenue.
Overall (apart from handsets), the government of Kenya is said to lose close to 20 billion shillings in revenue through counterfeit products.
A statement from CCK says the meeting held yesterday resolved to stop the activation of new SIM cards using counterfeit mobile handsets. “No new SIM cards would be allowed to operate in counterfeits handsets tentatively as from 30th September 2011,” says the statement.
However, a meeting of the technical teams from the four mobile operators, equipment manufacturers and CCK shall be held on Wednesday 14th to deliberate on the suitability of the 30th September date.
Consequently, it was also agreed that use of counterfeit handsets shall be phased out of the market by the end of the year. “Consumers using counterfeit mobile handsets therefore have (tentatively) up to 31st December 2011 to replace their mobile phones or risk de-activation.”
CCK is reassuring the public that the phasing out of counterfeit handsets shall be done in a coordinated manner to involve all stakeholders including government agencies, industry players, consumers and equipment manufacturers.
Towards this, a public awareness campaign will be done to sensitize consumers on the rationale behind the phasing out of counterfeit mobile handsets, the dangers associated with use of counterfeits, and the tentative deadline for deactivation of counterfeit mobile phones.
There ongoing discussions between the four mobile networks about sharing data on stolen handsets, and expanding the initiative to other East African countries to stem export of stolen handsets.
If the programme goes on as planned, more than two million mobile subscribers in Kenya will be switched off. Considering that most users are based in urban areas, if the phase out is not done well, it will cripple communication and have a massive impact on core services that depend on mobile telephony.
The last few months has seen a growth in mobile subscribers that was boosted by a vicious price war prompted by Bharti Airtel when it bought Kuwait owned Zain. According to the CCK quarterly sector (second quarter October-December 2010/2011) statistics report released in May 2011, there was a 12 percent growth with 2,935,223 new mobile subscribers. Although there are no figures on subscriber numbers from the various mobile operators on who is using a counterfeit phone, it will be interesting to see who loses what market share.
In Kenya, SIM cards are sold for less than a dollar and the price of handsets remains prohibitive for majority of the Kenya population who are currently grappling with inflation that has led to high cost of necessities like food and fuel.
There has been an entry of mobile brands in the country who are partnering with mobile operators to sell low-end smart phones, a strategy that is part of growing the data market – where most operators are setting sights as voice revenues dwindle.
MORE GOVERNMENT NEWS
NCC gives operators to Jan 2015 to design consumer compensationThe Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has set up a committee to look into how consumers could be compensated directly by service providers for the depletion of their air time due to poor quality of services (QoS). Read More
NCA launches Type Approval Portal in GhanaGhana's National Communication Authority has launched an Online Portal for Type Approval at the plush La Palm Beach Hotel in Accra. Read More
BIH gauges Open Data readiness in BotswanaOpen Data could make a significant contribution to Botswana’s economic goals, and help re-assert Botswana’s traditional democratic credentials, a study has found. Read More
Ghana moots lifting of smartphone import taxThe Government of Ghana is set to consider the lifting of import tax duties on smart phones. Read More
Broadband ‘boosts growth’Every economy today requires broadband for growth and prosperity, says Joseph Tiampati, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology. Read More
CAK: all systems go for Universal Service FundKenya's long-awaited Universal Service Fund has finally become a reality and it aims to bridge the digital divide. Read More
Khama spells out ICT roadmap in SONAIn his first National Assembly address after his reelection, Botswana President Ian Khama told the nation that the implementation of the National Research, Science, Technology and Innovation policy (RSTI) has started. Read More
Ghana to launch first phase of National Fibre Network soonThe Government of Ghana is expected to officially commission the completion of work on the fibre optic network connecting the eastern corridor linking Ho in the Volta region and Bawku in the Northern Region of the country by the end of December this year. Read More
Botswana streets to come under surveillanceSelected streets in both big and small cities as well as villages will be under the permanent glare of video surveillance according to recent reports. Read More
FEATURED STORYGSMA: half a billion mobile subscribers in SSA by 2020
The number of unique mobile subscribers in Sub-Saharan Africa will pass the half billion mark in 2020, says a new GSMA report.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHAfrica lags on digital migration
Only three African countries have so far completed the digital migration process, and serious issues are hampering the migration in other nations.
COMPANY NEWSLeading through volatility in Africa
For the businesses that are prepared to face the storm and manage the volatility afflicting the continent, there are still huge rewards to be had from doing business ...