NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 30 – The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has maintained that it will enforce a directive to mobile operators to block all counterfeit phones in Kenya.
Acting Director General Francis Wangusi said on Monday that a September 30 deadline still stands as the regulator is keen to block the proliferation of fake handsets in the market.
CCK estimates that there are 2.3 million fake phones in the Kenyan market and fighting counterfeits was proving to be a major challenge for the regulator.
“We do expect that they (operators) will be able to identify counterfeit phones for us. They are our licensees and each license has conditions to be upheld. So in case they will fail by any reasons to comply with the conditions of their licenses, then we would be forced to enforce them, and we are allowed by law to institute penalties,” he said.
CCK has scheduled a meeting on September 9 with the operators, government agencies and other stakeholders to discuss the way forward on tackling counterfeits in the country.
Speaking during a media briefing, on Tuesday, Mr Wangusi clarified that the recent intervention to block illegal phones was not to punish innocent subscribers who may unknowingly possess counterfeit handsets, but to curb their entry into the market.
He added that the primary challenge in identifying counterfeits will be determining whether phones deemed illegal, entered the market as genuine products, as some are reprogrammed upon entry into the country and hence considered counterfeits.
“Subscribers with counterfeit handsets have no hope of recovering their phones once stolen because these phones come with duplicated or tampered International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers making difficult for Equipment Identification Registries (EIR) to trace them,” he said.
Counterfeits account for 9.39 percent of mobile phones in the local market according to statistics based on returns obtained from the four mobile operators.
Safaricom recently announced that it had close to one million counterfeit phones on its network.
With 25 million subscribers in Kenya, Mr Wangusi, said in order to put a cap on the entry of fakes into the market, success in the war against counterfeits will involve a full concerted effort by the CCK, the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, mobile operators and other pertinent parties.
As far as mitigation measures, the CCK uses a type approving system that deciphers the authenticity of a telecommunication device prototype before it is cleared to be sold in the Kenyan market by registered vendors.
Meanwhile, CCK announced that 79 percent of SIM cards have been registered since making it a requirement last year to curb mobile phone crime.
“This is an achievement more especially when we don’t have a law in place to enforce it. We believe the m-transactions is going to help us a lot because unless you register you will not be able to m-transact on any of the networks. So that is an additional advantage,” he said.