Kenya to switch off illicit mobile phones

Kenya has confirmed that a switch-off of counterfeit mobile phones will take place at the end of the month.

In addition, networks will be forbidden from activating new “fake” devices bought after 1 October.

Government officials said the move was designed to protect consumers from hazardous materials and to safeguard mobile payment systems.

They added it should also help them track users and limit violence ahead of March’s general election.

The action had originally been scheduled to take place at the end of 2011, but was twice delayed to give subscribers a chance to replace their devices. However, the Ministry of Information and Communications has said this would not happen again.

The Communications Commission of Kenya defines fake handsets as “copies of popular brands and models made from sub-standard materials” that have not been licensed by the organisation.

They are sourced from China and other parts of Asia, as well as Nigeria and South Africa…

Law enforcement agencies had…complained that some of the devices used duplicated IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identifier) codes, making it difficult to track down users suspected of using their handsets to plan crimes…

In addition, when the government publicised the switch-off in June it also linked the move to efforts to restrict fraud.

“In this era of mobile banking, use of counterfeit devices, which are manufactured without due consideration to the recognised security standards, may expose our mobile money systems as well as the wider banking and financial system to unnecessary risks,” said the communications secretary Dr Bitange Ndemo…

Another set of great reasons for government regulation and oversight of communications equipment. After all the blather about economics and freedom, the main product needed to be removed from the network is cheap crap which can erode communications and even endanger users.

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