Users of counterfeit mobile phones have until September 30 before their handsets are switched off.
The deadline set by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) precedes a 3 month long awareness campaign dubbed, “Pata Ukweli wa Mtambo” to educate Kenyans on the disadvantages of using fake mobile phones and how to establish if their handsets are genuine.
To check if your mobile phone is genuine, dial *#06# to get the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number and then send the 15-digit number to 1555 to confirm the validity of your handset.
According to CCK’s Acting Director General Francis Wangusi this is the culmination of efforts of a Technical Committee comprising of representatives of different telecommunication industry stakeholders and the government. The Committee was set up following issues arising from last year’s notice by CCK to phase out fake phones.
He added that industry statistics indicate that close to 3 million or 10% of mobile phones in the Kenyan market are counterfeit.
Speaking at the same function, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Information and Communication, Bitange Ndemo announced that the deadline for SIM registration will also be on September 30. After that date mobile operators will be required by law to deactivate unregistered SIM cards.
He asserted that the government is keen to avoid a repeat of what happened in the aftermath of 2007 General Election where text messages where used to incite violence and fuel ethnic tensions but police were unable to bring culprits to book due to low number of registered SIM cards and widespread use of fake phones.
The government has since enacted the Finance Act 2012, which provides a legal framework for the deactivation of unregistered SIM cards.
While enforcement of the Kenya Information and Communications Act CAP 411A by CCK seeks to curtail counterfeit phones in the market.
Mobile operators present welcomed the campaign with Safaricom’s head Bob Collymore, applauding CCK’s collaborative approach. He also called for lower taxes so as to reduce the cost of handsets and boost the fight against counterfeit phones.