Approved phones for Nigeria’s market hit 1,492

…as Chinese brands maintain domination

 

Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), has so far approved 1,492 mobile phones for use in the country, New Telegraph has learnt. The devices, which are of different brands and models, are those that have been tested and found to meet the applicable type approval standards required to allow them to be sold to consumers in Nigeria. The regulatory approval was to ensure phones and devices being used in the country are of quality standard.

However, despite the regulatory efforts, investigations revealed that thousands of unapproved phone brands were still being sold across the country. While the unapproved phones are in most cases sub-standard or fake, they sell faster than the approved ones as they are sold at cheaper prices.

The latest data of type-approved phones released by NCC showed that Chinese mobile manufacturers were still dominating the mobile market in the country in terms of approved devices. Tecno led the pack with over 200 models of its phones ap-proved, followed by other Chinese brands such as Huawei and ZTE. With over 184.4 million mobile subscriptions as of December 2019, the country remains a veritable market for mobile manufacturers across the world.

Further consolidating on the domination of brands from China, three new Chinese mobile brands officially announced their presence in the country last year. The three major new entrants, whose phones are also among those type-approved by NCC, include Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo. Meanwhile, aside from the new brands entering the market quietly to sell unapproved phones, there is also a huge market for fairly used phones from the UK, US and other parts of the world.

The influx of used phones into the market is believed to be increasing the threat of e-waste in the country. Speaking on the moves to ensure that all phones in the country are type-approved, the Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta, recently warned Nigerians not to buy any phone that has not been certified for the market by the regulator. Danbatta, who frowned at the proliferation of counterfeit handsets in the country, said the menace of counterfeit and substandard handsets had assumed a global dimension and requires a lot of education on the part of the consumers and the collaboration with other government agencies to address it. He enjoined telecoms consumers to check the commission’s official website to find the list of type-approved phones from which they can make their choices of handsets to purchase. “Cases of influx and patronage of counterfeit handsets are more rampant in developing countries, such as Nigeria, where importers bring in substandard phones without recourse to the regulatory type-approval process aimed at certifying such devices as fit for the market,” he noted. According to him, the commission is empowered by the Nigerian Communications Act, 2003, Section 132 to establish and enforce standards for all telecommunications equipment in operation in Ni-geria to ensure that they operate seamlessly and safely within the Nigerian telecommunications environment.

“As such, all equipment manufacturers, vendors and operators, including customer devices such as mobile phones and wireless adapters, must, therefore, ensure that their equipment conforms to the applicable standards as mandated by the Commission before bringing them into Nigeria,” he said, adding that NCC was also saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that the consumer enjoys his or her stake in the telecommunications industry.

Late last year, the commission had announced plans to tackle the issue of fake phones through the use of technology, as it put mechanisms in place to build a centralised device management system.

According to NCC, the proposed DMS will have the capacity to facilitate the mandatory registration of all SIM-based devices in Nigeria, block all stolen, counterfeit, illegal or otherwise substandard SIM-based devices from operators’ networks and interface with the customs service, tax authority, security agencies, standards organisations, and other relevant agencies to ensure the full registration, payment of duties and taxes due on those devices and the protection of security and privacy of users in Nigeria.

To arrive at the decision, the commission said several consultative forums had been held with stakeholders including the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), mobile network operators, original equipment manufacturers, security agencies, standards organisations, and equipment and solution vendors.

Explaining how the system would work to detect cloned or fake phones, NCC said all mobile devices have IMEI, which are allocated by the GSMA.

It added the DMS would be connected to the GSMA database for easy detection of devices with fake IMEI once they are connected to any of the networks in the country.

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