Frank Kanyesigye, New Times
March 8, 2013
Government will ban the importation of counterfeit mobile handsets into the country instead of switching the existing ones off the networks.
The fake phones, believed to be of low quality, affect communication and pose a health risk to the users, according to Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Agency (Rura).
Regis Gatarayiha, the Director General of Rura, told The New Times yesterday, the plan to stop the importation of counterfeit (low quality) devices will start sometime this year.
"We are still assessing the impact but, what we have started is the 'Type Approval' of the phones entering the country. The importers first get type approval from Rura before bringing in phones," he said.
"We thought that, instead of switching off the existing ones, we should rather stop the new ones from entering the country and that process is being done through the 'type approval," the Rura boss explained: "We looked at its impact in other countries, where it has been implemented. We have seen how it affected people in other countries and we decided to ban the importation of new counterfeit mobile handsets."
A regional campaign to blacklist fake mobile phones started in Kenya where millions of gadgets were blocked from networks of mobile phone operators in the country.
The initiative had been agreed upon within the East African Communications Organisation (EACO).
EACO is the regional body which brings together regulatory, postal, telecommunications and broadcasting organisations from all the five member-states of the EAC.
All unregistered handsets and those with non-authentic International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers are considered to be counterfeit.
Fake mobiles include counterfeits, knock-offs, imitations, copycats and replicas, which steal design and trademarks to deceive consumers. All fake phones are produced without government certification and are sold illegally on the world's black market.
"Since the government announced plans to switch counterfeit phones off the networks, we no longer import them. These phones are cheap and the demand for them was really high," said Marie Clare Uwayezu, a phone dealer at O-King phones in Kigali.