Government decries influx of fake phones to Nigeria
The influx of substandard and fake mobile phones has been described as a bad omen, and an economic sabotage for Nigeria, which requires urgent attention to reverse the trend.
The Minister of Communications, Adebayo Shittu, who stated this, while inspecting the Computer Village market, Lagos, at the weekend, said it has become necessary for the country to evolve a system of registering all phones coming into it.
Shittu, who honoured the invitation of the Computer and Allied Products Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) on a tour, noted that local production of telecoms devices must be encouraged to guard against Nigeria becoming a dumping ground for all manners of IT wares.
CAPDAN is the umbrella body comprising the Dealers, Vendors, Artisans, Technician and SMEs at the popular Lagos Computer Village market.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), had revealed that cloning of ICT devices like mobile phones was creating a big economic problem, and affecting many products in the country.
The Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, had at a stakeholders’ meeting on, “Combating Counterfeit and Substandard ICT Devices” in Abuja, revealed that mobile phones (GSM) are targeted, with around 250 million fake products sold yearly in the country.
Danbatta said the number makes up between 15 and 20 per cent of the worldwide mobile phone market despite the negative economic impact of the unpleasant trend on the producers of genuine products, and government licensed dealers that include brand devaluation.
Impeccable sources in the phone manufacturing business, told The Guardian that counterfeiters might have taken over more than 10 per cent of the country’s market share, and boldly display the products at different areas like Computer Village, Ikeja, and other hinterlands.
Apart from these fake phones constituting some health hazards to consumers, they equally affect Quality of Service (QoS) delivery from network operators.
This was corroborated by the President, Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON), Olusola Teniola, who said investigations revealed more than 20 mobile phone brands in the country are not NCC type-approved, and contribute significantly to the persistent poor QoS.
Although, names of the phone brands are yet to be made public, however, Teniola said the unregistered/unapproved brands have over 150 mobile phone models circulating in Nigeria.
In this regard, the Minister has called on CAPDAN and its leadership to find a way to stem the growing tide. Shittu said the Ministry is ready to partner with the association to ensure success.
Responding, President of CAPDAN, Ahmed Ojikutu, said the Association was ready to work with the Ministry in all capacities that would move both the sector and the country’s economy forward.
Ojikutu however pleaded with the minister to help look into some areas of interest, which include the need for the Ministry to inculcate into its programme, recognition of the informal sector like the Computer Village.
He also sought for collaboration on training to get technicians at the market to international standard and building an incubation centre for more training; and drive local content in the ICT sector so as to develop more made in Nigeria products.
He also expects the Ministry to help facilitate free broadband in the market, which is adjudged as the largest technology market in West Africa through the Nigeria Satellite, and provision of funds for ICT research to develop Nigeria-based software.
Responding to the demands, Shittu disclosed that there are concrete steps to transform Computer Village into ICT regional Hub, owing to its estimated N2billion turnover per day. The Minister admitted this is a huge contribution to the Nigeria’s economy, which is largely dependent on oil.