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CCK backtracks on fake phones

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The Communication Commission of Kenya (CCK) has backtracked on its earlier directive that all operators should switch off subscribers using fake mobile phones and has instead called for more time for further consultations with stake holders.

The Communication Commission of Kenya has backtracked on its earlier (image: stock.xchng) directive

Although the regulator insists that using fake mobile phones is illegal, implementing the directives seems to be a difficult proposition as most operators feels that its entirely government’s business to introduce strict rules to curb the importation of counterfeit phones into the Kenyan market.

Safaricom’s head of consumer business, Peter Arina, said the mobile operator would still meet with the CCK on 9 September to chart the way forward but at the same time maintained that switching off subscribers is not the solution.

The CCK on its part says that the use of fake phones is illegal and had vowed to “punish” operators who do not adhere to the directive to switch such users off.

“Under the law, it is illegal for telecommunications operators to offer services to end users via unapproved apparatus including handsets,” said Francis Wangusi, acting director of the CCK.  “The regulator is allowed by the law to penalise those operators who refuse to implement its directives

Mobile operators have resisted the directive and have asked for more time to come up with alternative solutions that do not involve switching off their clients.

The regulator has said it lacks capacity to stop entry of counterfeit mobile handsets into the country and instead shifted blame to other government bodies like the Kenya Revenue Authority, Kenya Bureau of Standards, the Anti-counterfeit Agency and the police.

“It is not for CCK to fight counterfeits alone; law enforcement authorities are also supposed to play their part, our capacity is not sufficient,” said Wangusi.

“We have a strict type-approval system of vetting entry of all communication equipment, but as it turns out some models are re-programmed while in the country after approval,” he added.

In the meantime, Kenyans are still buying counterfeit handsets despite warnings that this may lead to their numbers being switched off soon.

The CCK says about 9,39% of the handsets of an estimated 25 million subscribers are counterfeits; this translates to about 2,3 million customers affected.

Most customers buy counterfeits because they are cheaper and readily available in many shops around the country. Some are also oblivious of whether their gadgets are genuine or fake, with yet others wrongly believing all models made in China are fake.

Brian Adero


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