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
SAP innovation transforms how Governments conduct businessSAP Africa kicked off its public sector innovation roadshow in Johannesburg, to highlight how the SAP innovation solutions portfolio including, cloud and big data, supports all levels of government. Read More
ATCON roots for spectrum marketATCON has urged the Nigerian Communications Commission to enable the creation of a “spectrum market” where the scarce airwaves could be bought and sold. Read More
MACRA cautioned as court okays ‘Spy Machine’Three days after the Supreme Court of Appeal in Blantyre ruled that Malawi Communication Regulatory Authority (MACRA) can roll out the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (CIRMS) which is popularly known as ‘the Spy Machine’, the country's consumer rights body has cautioned the regulator on the use of the ... Read More
Fake NIN enrolment agents on prowl, warns NIMCNigeria’s National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) has raised the alarm over reports making the rounds that eligible applicants must pay certain sums of money before they could enroll for the National Identification Number (NIN). Read More
ICT-enabled census to make a difference in DRCDRC’s first census in 30 years will be supported by ICTs to ensure a fast and faultless process. Read More
NCS tasks govt on R&D fundingThe Nigeria Computer Society has urged the Federal Government to increase funding of R&D. Read More
Policy Interventions can eliminate operational barriers - MascomMascom Marketing and Public Relations Executive Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego says the creation of an enabling legislature and policy interventions can help Botswana overcome its ICT obstacles. Read More
DRC Police to launch digital call centreIn October this year, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) will launch a digital call centre equipped with computers, fast internet and other latest technology tools to enable the police to respond timely and effectively to any kind of distress calls by the people. Read More
Angola Online free internet project launched in LuandaAngola’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technologies, in partnership with the National Center for Information Technology, has officially launched the digital project "Angola Online", which aims to roll out internet access to five million Angolans by 2017. Read More
NIG President speaks his mindBayo Banjo, CEO, Disc Communications and President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) says the proposed licensing of infrastructure companies by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) will breed corruption and entrench monopolistic practices. Kokumo Goodie reports. Read More
FEATURED STORYMFarmer SMS redefines market access for Ugandan farmers
Ugandan smallholder farmers are benefitting from an ambitious innovative ICT mobile phone initiative that offers weather reports and up-to-date market information about changes in prices for agricultural commodities, thus granting them lucrative returns from their farming ventures.
BEST READ NEWS
IN DEPTHNIG President speaks his mind
Bayo Banjo, CEO, Disc Communications and President, Nigeria Internet Group (NIG) says the proposed licensing of infrastructure companies by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) will breed corruption and entrench monopolistic practices. Kokumo Goodie reports.
COMPANY NEWSSAP innovation transforms how Governments conduct business
SAP Africa kicked off its public sector innovation roadshow in Johannesburg, to highlight how the SAP innovation solutions portfolio including, cloud and big data, supports all levels ...