Tanzania Plans to Switch off Counterfeit Phones in June

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In 2012, the Communications Authority of Kenya then referred Communications Commission of Kenya launched a campaign to get rid of counterfeit devices. CCK estimated that there were 2.5 Million counterfeit devices in Kenya at the time and presented mobile operators with a list of devices to switch off. Safaricom switched off 680,000 phones from its network, Telkom Orange locked out 75,000 phones, Airtel blocked 740,000 phones while YU blocked 45,000 devices.

Tanzania is set to take a similar move by switching off counterfeit phones by June 16th 2016. The efforts in Tanzania are headed by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) in collaboration with mobile operators. The Tanzania government has also deployed the Central Equipment Identification Register (CEIR), to bolster these efforts. According to Tanzanian Paper Daily News, some traders in Tanzania were changing IMEI numbers of mobile devices which attracts a fine of 30 Million Tanzania Shillings, 10 years in prison or both.   It is estimated that 40% of mobile phone users in Tanzania use fake devices and the announcement of the planned switch off saw the number of devices with duplicate IMEI numbers rise to 30%.

Just like in Kenya, the efforts have attracted sharp criticism with some stating they were punishing citizens. The planned switch off aims to protect consumers against substandard phones, safeguard mobile payment systems and prevent crime.

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