Telecom regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has reportedly ordered all licensed telecom operators to deactivate counterfeit mobile phones that do not have serial numbers.
Fake phones can be identified by mobile networks as these devices have duplicate or non-conforming International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers.
Back in October 2012, infrastructure constraints forced the UCC to quit its planned termination of telco services to fake mobile phones even after its neighbour Kenya had already blocked over one million counterfeit handsets.
But according to fresh reports by New Vision, although no timeline has been given, two committees comprising of representatives from UCC and the telecom operators have been constituted with instructions to commence work immediately.
UCC has paid billions of shillings to acquire and activate the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR), a database that contains a list of IMEIs of mobile terminals which are active in the mobile network. It contains the IMEIs that are permitted for use, devices that do not conform to standards and the number of devices which have have been reported stolen or lost. These will not connect to the mobile network.
Uganda has for long been used by the West and China as a ‘dumping ground’ for fake phones.
The clamp-down by UCC if serious is now expected to put many phone dealers in hubs like Mutasa Kafeero out of business.
And UCC executive director, Eng Godfrey Mutabazi will use this new regulation to target cyber bullies, stalkers, hackers, peddlers of fake news and paedophiles who use popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp.
The government asked all telecom operators, vendors and outlets selling phones to submit their merchandise for technical inspection before they’re sold to the public.
“All telecom operators shall obtain type approval from UCC for all network equipment used and subscriber terminals or devices sold by respective operators,” the directive states.
Under the new directive announced on Friday, no outlet will be allowed to sell phones unless it has a certificate of approval issued by UCC after verification that their phones meet the required standards.
UCC has also asked the telecom operators to freeze the purchase or replacement of mobile phone sim cards indefinitely until they acquire equipment for verification of personal data.