By Franklin Alli
The Federal Government will soon order telecom companies in the country to effect a nationwide switch-off of over 12.6 million counterfeit phones from networks by using the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.
Speaking during an interactive forum with Phone Brand Owners in Lagos, the SON boss pointed out that in 2013 alone, over N5 billion was spent in Nigeria on the importation of substandard mobile phones, adding that as at April this year, Nigeria currently has a GSM subscriber base of 126,958,904; and 10 percent of these subscribers (12.6 million) use counterfeit phones.
He affirmed that the enforcement will boost consumer rights protection, increased revenue for the government via taxes; increase revenue for the genuine mobile phone manufacturers as well as improved GSM networks in the country.
According to him, SON is working out the plan with Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and Consumer Protection Council; the phone operators, and “Soon government shall announce the directive to switch the fake phones off the networks.”
“As more countries switch-off counterfeit phones, the people behind this scourge will keep moving to countries that are yet to adopt this solution, hence the urgent need to address the situation,” he said.
He enjoined all brand owners to monitor and protect their products from the factories (manufacturers) until they get to the end-users.
“Brand owners have to inscribe coded identification marks on original phones to ensure traceability and proper user’s guide,” he said.
Umego Adaora, CPC Scientific Officer Lagos Zonal Office, also urged the brand owners to look beyond making money by considering the negative effects substandard phones have on the economy, the environment and the consumer.
Some of the brand owners reacted to the development:
Comfort Ebere, whose company is Nokia mobile sole representative in Nigeria, noted, ‘There is a phone I saw recently; Nokia as a brand name and they wrote L300 but Nokia doesn’t produce L300. I also saw Nokia L800 and I asked where are these phones coming from? I was taken a backed and I went to the office and spoke with my people to know what is really happening in the markets. When we see a real Nokia phones from us we know. If we key in the code and it doesn’t bring up the features we tell the customer, this is not from us.”
Sunday Mbiam, who represented LG Electronics, said, “I must confess that it has been very frustrating. You have good phones in the market but getting complaints from consumer that most of the products they found in the markets are faked. They must have bought it from roadsides and not from the main dealers. We have a good warranty in places such that in case of defaults take your phone to any of our centre for replacement. And we want to encourage Nigerians to patronise our dealers and not road-side phone vendors.”