That phone you’re holding may be counterfeit



Adebayo Obajemu

For the undiscerning ,the risk of buying counterfeit phone is ever present danger , and pretty much high.The menace of counterfeit phones and other devices may remain in Nigeria unless drastic actions are deployed by the Federal Government. Stakeholders urged the government to become more combative rather than being re-active in the fight against the menace in the country, which they claimed is robbing the economy significantly.

Already, the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), disclosed that the global economy loses about $6 billion yearly to substitute phones as a result of greymarket activities. About $3 billion is said to be lost yearly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), where Nigeria is a leading telecoms market. It was gathered that 180 million counterfeit mobile phones are sold globally yearly and represent about 13 per cent of global sale, and eight per cent in the EU.

Eandel gathered that counterfeiting has increased by almost 50 per cent within three years of a major raid by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) , on the Computer Village, at Otigba, Ikeja, Lagos.

To curb Nigeria’s growing exposure to this menace; some stakeholders told this magazine that the economy should be made conducive and robust, especially with needed infrastructure put in place to facilitate rapid development. This, they claimed, would enable the people to have access to cheaper and more reliable mobile devices.

They are unanimous in their view that it won’t be out of place if foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), which have sold over five million units in Nigeria, are urged to establish a plant in the country. Above all, it is crucial to have local Nigerian production of mobile devices if the country must be competitive. According to them, avenues that encourage the menace in the region must be blocked.

Many have averred that if some measures are not taken, Nigeria may remain a dumping ground for other nations’ products and services. Stakeholders said efforts must be made to block the usage of fake and cloned phones in the country through the use of technology. While recommending what India did to curb the menace, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Teletok Nigeria Limited, Pradeep Kumar, told this newspaper that the Indian government gave a three-month ultimatum that fake phone users should change it or have the SIM blocked. He said when the SIM is blocked, new SIMs are not issued.

Kumar, who recommended local assembly and manufacturing, said a major solution is to have the phones in the country registered. He linked three major challenges to fake phones, including causing health hazards to consumers; low maintenance cycle, and loss of huge revenues on the part of government.

According to him, if there is local assemblage, it will provide an avenue for the phones to be registered from source and through that process, activities of counterfeiters are checked.

From his own perspective, Sales Manager, Phones45, Hamin Babatunde, said Authorities are lukewarm in combating the menace, and challenged government and its agencies to find a lasting solution to the issue. According to him, government should by all means discover where these phones come from; know the centre for distribution and importation of such phones. He disclosed that so many cloned phones are sold at the Computer Village in broad day light, and on several online platforms with highest level of impunity.

In his own view, Mayowa Adekoya of Unotelos Limited, said besides the fact that revenues are lost through unpaid duties as a result of the activities of counterfeiters, there is also the SIM Box scenario, where operators come into Nigeria because of the arbitrage between the international and local calls.

“They bring in these devices that can take multiple SIMs, by so doing by-passing the interconnect path to deliver calls to operators. Hence, the operators and the country lose revenues. The devices they use are products of counterfeiting. Something drastic must be done as fast as possible.”

The Executive Vice Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Prof. Umar Danbatta, said counterfeiting is a global challenge that has elicited a common disquiet among stakeholders worldwide, especially in respect of the continued influx of counterfeit and illegal ICT devices in both developed and developing countries.

According to him, Nigeria is not in any way immune to this problem, saying the challenges posed by this menace are quite devastating, hindering the progress made so far in ICT usage and processes in terms of its economic, social, environmental, and security impacts on the country.

Danbatta said a Mobile Device Management System (MDMS), has been conceived. “The proposed MDMS will have the capacity to facilitate the mandatory registration of all SIM-based devices in Nigeria, block all stolen, counterfeit, illegal or otherwise substandard SIM-based devices from operators’ networks and interface with the Customs Service, Tax Authority, Security Agencies, Standards Organisations and other relevant agencies to ensure the full registration, payment of duties and taxes due on those devices and the protection of security and privacy of users in Nigeria.”

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