After the announcement that no new fake mobile handsets would successfully connect to SIM cards by end of September by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and industry stakeholders, the anti-counterfeit agency (ACA) has in partnership with the Kenya Police now enhanced its raids on outlets selling devices with fakes IMEIs.
In August, Nokia in conjunction with ACA, Kenya Bureau of Standards and Kenya Police made raids at various outlets, mainly in downtown Nairobi, which helped to confiscate over 11, 000 Nokia items.
The confiscated devices included 2071 counterfeit Nokia handsets (enclosed in boxes complete accessories), 330 separate earpieces and 9084 pieces of batteries. Last Friday, during another raid, fake Nokia products were recovered along Luthuli Avenue while a Chinese trader was found at his residence where he assembles parts to make fake Nokia products.
Kenneth Oyolla, Nokia East and Southern Africa general manager said the anti-counterfeit campaign which the company kicked off in May this year has helped boost public awareness about fake mobile phones, batteries and accessories and how customers can recognize them.
“By and large, this campaign has started bearing fruit not only for Nokia, as the biggest player in the market, but also for the industry as a whole. More importantly, elimination of counterfeits will help save Kenya billions of shillings lost in tax revenue. We believe this war against has just started and Kenyans will be the biggest winners if we completely eliminate the problem,” said Oyolla.
He added: “We have introduced a wide array of mobile phones, including dual SIM models, feature phones and smartphones giving Kenyans broad choices at different and very affordable price points. And our consumers have started to take advantage of these offers indicating that they are also learning that one can have a smart and affordable mobile phone. ”
Mr. Oyolla supported the government’s crackdown on counterfeit goods and adding that Nokia will continue with its collaborative efforts through training of Kenya Revenue Authority and the Kenya Bureau of Standards officials to distinguish the fake from genuine Nokia products. Nokia has also been organizing training for immigration officers at border entry points to arrest the entry of fake handsets.
“Our advice is that customers should buy Nokia products from authorized distributors and retailers and ensure they get their 12-month warranty for Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. We urge our customers to SMS the IMEI numbers of the phone they want to buy to 8810 and they will get an instant response as to whether the phone is genuine or fake,” said Oyolla.
According to Abdulla Hasayen, Nokia’s brand protection manager for Middle East and Africa, counterfeit mobile phones pose a host of risks including dangerous chemicals such as lead and mercury because counterfeiters do not follow safety standards such as radio emissions, thereby endangering safety of consumers.
“Customer care and quality is important to Nokia and our advice is that customers should buy Nokia products from authorized distributors and retailers and ensure they get their 12-month warranty. And if a product is purchased from a location other than an authorized dealer then exercise extreme caution especially when the price is substantially less than being stated by Nokia authorized dealers,” said Mr. Hasayen.
It is estimated that counterfeiting and piracy cost G20 economies $ 85 billion a year in lost taxes and higher spending on unemployment benefits. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has estimated that international counterfeit trade is worth $ 600 billion a year and makes up 5-7 per cent of world trade.