Tanzania to block fake mobile phones from networks from June 16

Tanzania’s telecoms industry regulator Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is set to block all mobile phones with none-genuine International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers – which is unique to any mobile device on a network – from the country’s mobile networks from June 16.

With less than a month left to the TCRA deadline, Tanzania’s MNOs are currently running campaigns meant to help subscribers ascertain whether their devices are fake or genuine.

Tigo Tanzania, which was recently declared the fastest growing operator in the country by TCRA, is currently running an online sensitization campaign on website for subscribers. The Tigo campaign urges subscribers not to buy fake phones to avoid being blocked by the regulator.

“Avoid the inconvenience of your phone being blocked before it’s too late. Many fake phones look quite real and genuine, when they are really poor quality imitations that malfunction often and only look like the real thing.  So how can you tell if your phone is a fake?,” states Tigo in its online IMEI verification campaign.

Tigo then continues by giving subscribers a step-by-step guide on how to verify one’s IMEI number before stating that: “Tigo ONLY sells genuine phones from reputable manufacturers who back their product with a manufacturer’s warranty. Get a high quality and genuine phone at a great price from any Tigo Shop today.”

TCRA is also running a similar campaign on its portal, and clarifies that devices with two SIM slots will have two IMEI numbers.

“The number displayed in your device is the unique code specific for your mobile device and is called International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI).  For mobile devices having two SIM cards it will display two IMEI codes…Enter the IMEI code in the blank space provided and press “Validate My Mobile Device”. The Model, Manufacturer and Frequency Bands of the mobile device corresponding with the IMEI code will be displayed for you to compare and verify if your device is genuine or not,” states TCRA on its portal.

According to latest stats, Tanzania currently has almost 32 million subscribers, with Vodacom, Tigo and Airtel having the bulk of the subscribers.

Innocent Mungy, TCRA’s  Head of Corporate Communications, previously told Tanzania Daily News that the number of devices in the market with duplicate IMEI numbers has decreased from almost 30 per cent to 13 per cent by March this year. He added that mobile phones with genuine IMEI numbers have increased from 79 per cent to 83 per cent between December 2015 and March 2016.

However, unofficial figures put the volume fake devices in the market at over 40 per cent.

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