Controlling Mobile Device Theft and Counterfeiting in Tanzania
SGS, in collaboration with Global Voice Group (GVG), is happy to announce that the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) has launched the Central Equipment Identity Register (CEIR) in the United Republic of Tanzania in December 2015. The CEIR is the latest component of the Telecommunication Traffic Monitoring System (TTMS) that was implemented in the country by the SGS-GVG Consortium in 2014. Its main purpose is to stop counterfeited or stolen phones from accessing the telecommunications networks.
The Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, January Makamba, announced the introduction of the CEIR in Parliament on 9 December 2015, after he was asked what measures the government was planning to take to control mobile phone theft and related criminal activities – like counterfeiting and cloning – in the country. Indeed, figures released by the TCRA indicate that more than 2000 handsets are reported stolen every year. The increase in this kind of crime is due to an exponential rise in the use of mobile technology in Tanzania. Counterfeiting is also a widespread problem and Dr Ally Simba, Director General of the TCRA, cautioned Tanzanian citizens against the purchasing of counterfeited mobile phones, as the latter often bear the designs and trademarks of genuine products and are thus difficult to identify.
The CEIR is essentially a nationwide database containing the IMEIs of all the phones in use in the country. Together with the Automatic Device Detection (ADD) solution that is installed alongside it, the CEIR organizes the IMEIs into black, white or grey lists, depending on whether they have been found to belong to stolen/counterfeited or legitimate devices. The system is thus able to prevent the devices whose IMEI has been blacklisted to access the local telecom networks. Deputy Minister Makamba explained that this would help control mobile device theft in the country, as thieves would not be able to use the stolen handsets. Additionally, through its capacity to detect counterfeit or cloned handsets, the CEIR will help reduce the sale and use of such products.
Now that the CEIR has been implemented, the Tanzanian mobile subscribers are required to verify the legitimacy of their cell phones and related devices. The process is simple and can be carried out via SMS. If a device is found to be illegitimate, an SMS will be sent to the owner to alert him or her to the situation. He or she will then have until 16 June 2016 to replace the offending device. By that date, all fake cell phones will be blacklisted and will therefore not be able to access the local networks anymore.
Prior to the acquisition of the CEIR, the TCRA had already positioned itself as one of the most progressive regulatory authorities in Africa by implementing the TTMS, also through the SGS-GVG consortium. Since its commissioning on 1 October 2014, the TTMS has helped boost the revenue of both the government and the licensed operators and has allowed for the dismantling of a number of fraudulent networks. With the recent launch of the CEIR, the TCRA is now comforting its position as a visionary authority in East Africa, by reducing mobile device-related crime and thus boosting security in the country. The TCRA’s Acting Corporate Communication Manager, Semu Mwakyanjala, said that the Authority’s example would eventually be followed by all the other East African states, including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
Global Voice Group (GVG) stands out as one of the world’s leading experts in ICT solutions for governments in emerging countries. Since 1998, the group pioneers innovative and proven ICT solutions to successfully assist governments in improving their governance and financial performance. GVG strongly commits to the technological and socio-economic empowerment of emerging countries, through technology transfer and innovative financing for development. The group has developed a unique approach to dramatically improve fiscal and regulatory compliance in key sectors of the economy, including but not limited to telecommunications and retail markets. Member of the International Telecommunication Union, GVG has been awarded the Frost & Sullivan Best Practice Award for its outstanding innovation in telecoms management technologies.
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