By Samson Echenim
Nigeria’s products standards agency, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), worried about economic and safety issues over cloned phones is ramping up its oversight with the confiscation of thousands of such phones with an estimated street value of N100 million in Kano State, northern Nigeria.
Osita Aboloma, director general of SON disclosed this at an Infotech event in Lagos during a panel session on ‘Eradication of the influx of cloned and fake phones and other telecoms devices in Nigeria: the role of NCC, ONSA, Nigeria Customs, SON, Nigeria Shippers Council and other relevant government agencies.’
“We are very much awake to the menace of cloned phones in our markets and we have arrested many dealers of such phones. In Kano, we recently confiscated cloned phones up to N100 million. Cloned phones constitute economic waste and users are exposed to high radiation,” he said.
He said SON has a hi-tech laboratory to test suspected phones imported into Nigeria.
“Phones must be SONCAP and if they don’t meet our requirements we have to confiscate them. Unfortunately, we are not in the ports until we are invited. Some port terminals won’t allow our officials in because they take us to be enemies to their customers and business. Some importers will declare that they are bringing in a Samsung brand. They will provide all information about that Samsung phone, but the phones are not Samsung.
“There has to be more synergy with other agencies at the ports, especially the Nigeria Customs Service and that’s the area we are now looking at,” said Aboloma, who was represented at the forum by a top official of the organisation in Lagos.
Earlier, Mayowa Adekoya, general manager, network and support services, UnoTelos, and Ajapson Babatunde, CEO, Zulpha Zain Ltd, said genuine investors and the country are losing huge revenue to the prevalent cloned phone syndrome, which also leaves the country with health concerns and security problems, as criminals use such phones to impersonate. They charged the Customs and SON to always check the IMEI number of every suspected phone as they are imported into the country.
Remi Adeyemi of African Brands said the Nigerian phone market situation created room for fake phones to flourish.
“It is natural for people to always buy cheaper options. With the purchasing power of Nigerians waning, they will keep going for cheaper phones. What we should be focusing on is building local brands that can be far cheaper. Nigerians are said to own over 100 million phones. This makes about N1 trillion market value if the phones are sold at N10,000 each on the average. Yet, Nigeria has no local phone manufacturer or even local makers of parts of phones. This should be the focus,” he said.