Ethiopia government in mobile phone registration drive to curb smuggling, fraud

The Ethiopian government, through the Ministry of Communication & Information Technology (MCIT), has embarked on the process of registering new mobile phones getting into the country. The device registeration, which began mid this month, is being conducted by the country’s telecom monopoly operator, Ethio Telecom, and is meant to prevent the entry of smuggled devices into the local market and also guard against their use in the firm’s satellite network.

The mobile phone registration drive was launched on Thursday, September 14, 2017.

Through the campaign, Ethio Telecom, targets about 2.7 million mobile phones as part of the national Equipment Identity Registration System (EIRS) exercise. EIRS aims at modernising the country’s telecom service and is recognised by Global System Mobile Association (GSMA) while maintaining users’ advantages in terms of better service, enhanced security and national revenues.

The EIRS system will also block illegally imported gadgets capable of bypassing the service provider’s satellite network and enabling them to make international calls.

“The system is designed to take out invalid mobile phones that are cloned or are of substandard production… The existence of such products deters the quality of the telecom service and poses a threat to the users’ well-being,” Abdurahim Ahmed, Ethio Telecom’s corporate communications director told Addis Fortune, adding that mobile devices are thus automatically registered with their specific identification number known as IMEI, which binds a particular SIM card to a particular device.

During the registration drive, all the active mobile phones are automatically registered while unused devices will be registered after inserting Ethio Telecom’s SIM card. Subscribers can dial *#06# to identify their phone’s IMEI number and dial *868# to have a look at and use the available registration alternatives.

The new system is expected to match each mobile device with the SIM card of the particular user using IMEI, a unique number given automatically to identify GSM, WCDMA, and iDEN mobile phones, as well as some satellite phones. IMEI is only used for recognising the device and has no permanent or semi-permanent relation to the subscriber. The number is used by the GSM network to know valid devices.

Ethio Telecom currently has over 50 million mobile subscribers, 16 million of who use internet services, representing for 15.4 per cent of the total population.


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