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Telecoms companies to disconnect substandard phones from networks – SON

By on August 8, 2014

Dr. Joseph Odumodu, Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has disclosed that In no distant future, the Federal Government will order telecommunication companies in the country to begin a nationwide switch-off of over 12.6 million fake handsets from networks by using the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number.

During an interactive forum with Phone Brand Owners in Lagos, the SON boss emphasised that in 2013 alone, over N5 billion was used up in Nigeria for the importation of inferior mobile phones. He added that as at April 2014, Nigeria had a GSM user base of 126,958,904; and 10 percent of these subscribers (12.6 million) use counterfeit phones. He stated that the implementation will increase consumer rights protection, improved revenue for the government via taxes and as well increase revenue for the genuine mobile phone manufacturers as well as better GSM networks in the country.

He went ahead to say that, SON was making the plan with the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, and Consumer Protection Council, CPC.

“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.

CPC Scientific Officer, Lagos Zonal Office, Umego Adaora, also admonished the brand owners to look beyond making money, but should consider the negative effects substandard phones have on the economy, the environment and the consumer.

Some of the brand owners responded to the development thus:

“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 surprised 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 the 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.” Comfort Ebere said.

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 see in the markets are fake. 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 patronize our dealers and not road-side phone vendors.”

Adetola Oni, representative of Samsung said, “We feel very bad about how things have been going in the markets; our phones are being cloned. A customer recently reported default, but when we tested it in our office it came up as SAGEM and it was very devastating. We are doing our best to curtail the problem, but we need government and its agencies to help us.”

Eze Ifeanyi, Todal Mobile added thus: “People out there are really passing-off brands. There is no how we can overcome it on our own without the support of the SON and other agencies to make sure the problem actually comes to an end.”

“We have been losing money, paying staff salaries and paying a lot of dues to the government and the market association but not making headway. I so much appreciate this forum and I believe it will put things in check so that Nigerian consumers can have value for their money,” said Prince Cletus, the brand owner of Cletus phones and accessories.