- The Communications Commission of Kenya has asked operators to switch off about 2.3 million counterfeit handsets in less than a month
- The Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said it would not go to court to block the switch-off after a study by Infotrak Harris revealed that most Kenyans support the initiative
- In May, CCK launched a three-month consumer awareness campaign aimed at ensuring that users are not caught off-guard when the switch-off call is made
More than 2.3 million mobile subscribers using counterfeit handsets have less than a month to acquire genuine sets or face termination of services from network operators.
In an interview with Smart Company, new Communications Commission of Kenya director-general Francis Wangusi urged Kenyans to ensure that they have genuine handsets, adding that the 30 September deadline would not be extended.
“We have conducted enough publicity campaigns on this issue and are content that it is now time we switched off the fake handsets. All mobile operators are under instructions to withdraw their services from any person using a counterfeit handset after the deadline,” said Mr Wangusi.
He said the commission was working with operators, adding that it had now won the backing of civic organisations that had previously been against the move.
Last week, the Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) said it would not go to court to block the switch-off after a study by Infotrak Harris revealed that most Kenyans support the initiative.
Cofek had opposed the switch-off, saying it would amount to punishing the consumer while it is not their fault that the fake gadgets are in the market.
In May, CCK launched a three-month consumer awareness campaign aimed at ensuring that users are not caught off-guard when the switch-off call is made. (Read: What becomes of CCK’s 2.5m e-waste phones?)
As part of the awareness campaign, mobile operators were required to send text messages to their subscribers guiding them on how to establish whether a handset is genuine or not.
“Subscribers now have up to the end of this month to make sure the handset they are using is type-approved by CCK and allowed in the local market. From then, any counterfeit handset will not receive service from any of the existing mobile operators in the country,” said Mr Wangusi. Safaricom, the biggest mobile operator by market share with a subscriber base of over 19 million Kenyans, said it would cooperate with the regulator in the call because counterfeit handsets are a threat to their users.
“We are going to switch them off come 30 September because they are not even safe for the health of our subscribers,” CEO Bob Collymore said.
“We have genuine Chinese products like the Ideos, which is made by Huawei, and people should stop referring to all Chinese handsets as fake,” he said.
Telkom Kenya chief executive Michael Ghossein confirmed that the company would switch off subscribers operating fake phones in its Orange mobile network.
“We have to do what the regulator says and are under instructions to withdraw our services to anyone using a counterfeit handset. Luckily, we don’t have many customers with fake phones on our network,” said Mr Ghossein.
Nokia said it had increased stocks in readiness for the demand that will result from the switch-off.
“We are happy that CCK is finally going to deal with this major problem that has for long eaten into the revenues of genuine mobile manufacturers. We hope it succeeds,” said Nokia South Africa Middle East and Africa general manager Gerard Brandjes.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 04 September 2012 06:53)