Fighting counterfeit electronic gadgets is a global campaign, and it is estimated that phone manufacturers lost up to 48 billion dollars to fake phones, when they sold 184 million devices fewer in 2015, according to the European Union Intellectual Property Office, in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union.
The Uganda Communication Commission, UCC has
deferred the switching off of counterfeit cell phones on the Ugandan market,
saying that it is not automatic, and will follow an assessment of the impact of
the six months sensitization campaign, which started on Tuesday.
The sensitization campaign which will see the
communications regulator working with all stakeholders in the communication
sector to get rid of counterfeit/ illegal cell phones on the Ugandan market,
entered its second phase on Tuesday, and this involves consumer awareness as
the key strategy.
Rebecca Mukite, the head of
public and international relations at UCC while clarifying on media reports that the
commission is to switch off some 6 million cellphones, said that it is
public knowledge that counterfeit cell phones expose their users to dangers and
vulnerabilities, and this is what the commission is trying to eliminate, but
the switch off is farfetched because they are starting with sensitization.
According to Mukite, UCC's strategy is benchmarked
on what is happening in other countries worldwide and in the East African
region. She adds that the very strong social aspects of the campaign are the
biggest stumbling block to its success.
“There has been a lot of aggregation of knowledge at
the technical level, and the networks are now more intelligent than ever and if
it was technology alone the issue would be handled already,” Mukite said.
Mukite says that the very high dependence on mobile
phones and other IT gadgets especially after the COVID-19 lockdown, doesn't
give them the liberty to use brute force because of the possible consequences.
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She adds that in the campaign they are focusing on
helping all device users to get to know their devices very well. she adds that
the illegitimate devices have more than the permissible levels of toxic metal components which can harm the environment when disposed of, as well as
cyber vulnerabilities which make them very prone to hacking, and this has
affected so many users of such phones through the rampant network loss.
In this phase unlike the first one which dealt with
key players like network operators, government agencies and the dealers, which
harmonized interests their, Mukite says in this particular one, they are going to "soak" the users with a lot of information to drive behavioral change among the
Ugandan phone users, adding that they do not have control over the sources of
these phones, but they can talk to the users;
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According to Mukite, such devices include those with
invalid International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI), those with tampered as
well as those which have not been type-approved by the commission.
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Fighting counterfeit electronics gadgets is a global
campaign, and it is estimated that phone manufacturers lost up to 48 billion
dollars to fake phones, when they sold 184 million devices fewer in 2015
according to the European Union
Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO), in collaboration with the International
Telecommunication Union (ITU),
They also indicate that as of 2015, the highest
number of sales of these counterfeits is in Africa at 21.3 percent, Latin
America at 19.6 percent, the Middle East at 17.4 percent, China at 15.6 percent,
and Asia-Pacific (11.8 percent).