Fake phone manufacturers and importers seem to be having upper hand in the current battle with such products’ regulators in Nigeria, Nigeria CommunicationsWeek can report.
According to an impeccable source in the phone manufacturing business, counterfeiters might have taken over more than ten per cent (10%) of the market share, and glaringly displaying the products at different areas like Computer Village- Ikeja and other hinterlands.
“It is affecting a whole lot of things in this market. We hear of people complain about Poor Quality of Network Service (QoS), the activities of these phone fakers contribute a lot to that. So, users of such phones are losers, government is losing revenue, we are losing the market too as original equipment manufacturers and spells doom for the market.
“These guys used to occupy about five per cent of the market, but I can authoritatively tell you that they have gone beyond ten per cent of the market share,” the source who prefers anonymity told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek.
ATCON Had Alerted Constituted Authorities
Nigeria CommunicationsWeek had in October 1, 2016 exclusively reported the discovery by the Association of Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ATCON), which called for urgent measures to curb the increasing rate of dumping fake mobile phones in the country.
Mr. Olusola Teniola, ATCON said that that investigations revealed more than twenty (20) mobile phone brands in the country are not NCC type-approved and contribute significantly to the persistent poor quality of service (QoS).
Although, names of the phone brands are yet to be made public, however, Teniola said that the unregistered/unapproved brands have over one hundred and fifty (150) mobile phone models circulating in Nigeria.
He said that the Association believes more stringent measures should be taken to curb the counterfeiting of mobile phones in the country.
Meanwhile, fresh facts emerged recently, showing that the fakers copy 100% of top phone brands in the market, selling same to end-users as the original.
Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Arrest Alleged Fakers
It could be recalled that in January 2017, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), working with other law enforcement agencies arrested two Chinese nationals over increasing complaints about fake and substandard phones imported into Nigeria.
The Chinese, according to Osita Aboloma, director general of SON, imported fake and substandard mobile phones into the country.
Aboloma, who was represented by Bede Obayi, director Compliance of SON, during a recent enforcement exercise in Lagos by SON, said the Agency has continued to receive numerous complaints about KZG phones from unsuspecting consumers in the country.
Aboloma said “We have information on the activities of these Chinese people who are operating this KZG mobile here in Ikeja Lagos that people are complaining about the quality of their products and SON has to ensure that the quality of products sold in Nigeria is in compliance with the Nigeria industrial standards.
“Their attitude show that they know what they are doing here and they are not ready to talk, they are not ready to give us information about what they are doing here and their major warehouses. Based on the information we have gathered and what we found on ground in the office and the documentation of importation indicates that he is one of the leading suppliers of sub-standard phones in Nigeria,” Obayi said.
Fakers Attack Original OEMs
But, our Source at Computer Village, Ikeja, revealed how SON’s clamp down on fakers attracted their (fakers’) wraths on original OEMs. “In fact, when SON concluded the raid here in Computer Village, the fake phone manufacturers were furious and went ahead to invade shops and offices of some the original OEMs whom they believed were the whistleblowers. Staff of the original OEMs were quite traumatized by the incident.
Speaking to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek on the worrying situation, Mr. Teniola said, "We plead with Government to put in place anti-counterfeiting measures such as the facilitation of integrated Web portal based IMEI-IMSI collection to stem the menace of substandard or unregistered mobile phones circulating in Nigeria with obvious consequences of poor quality of service, loss of revenue to the government, loss of business by OEMs and loss of jobs as well as in revenue to the Nigeria mobile market.
"For instance, we have more than twenty mobile phone brands that do not have NCC type approved certificate to operate in Nigeria. This unregistered/unapproved brands have over one hundred and fifty mobile phone models circulating in Nigeria".
He added that the Association observed 10% of fake mobile phones products of some of the popular mobile phone brands circulating in Nigeria.
According to Mr. Austin Eze, a phone technician, “an average phone user in the market requires education to distinguish original from fake phones. “Yes. For the fact there are fake phones in the market implies there are originals too. What the manufacturers should be focusing on is educating the customers”.
CAPDAN Confirms The Situation
Mr Ahmed Ojikutu, president of Computer and Allied Product Dealers Association of Nigeria (CAPDAN) while reacting to the situation told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek confirmed that the activities of the fakers are threats to OEMs.
Mr Ojikutu, however, said that his administration is completely against the illegalities, while pleading with relevant authorities to partner them in tackling the unsavory situation.
He said that, as part of CAPDAN’s commitment to tacking fake and substandard devices, they are launching a toll-free line that will be available to those patronizing the market.
The CAPDAN President spoke to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, “Our administration is absolutely 150% against substandard and counterfeit products. We are trying to make sure that anybody that has complaint relating to buying counterfeit product or not exactly what you paid for, we will make sure that such is addressed at our own level. We will make sure the seller in questions provides what the buyer paid for at the point of the transaction. Be that at it may, if the complaint didn’t get to us, we wouldn’t know how to resolve the issue. In a case where the seller refuses to yield to our calls, we hand him over to the police; that is what we have been doing.
“We are also going to launch a campaign with a free-toll line. We are going to display it anywhere for people to call-in and lodge complaints. As they call in possibly during the working hours, we give them reference number to follow up on them. This is for every buyer at Computer Village (CV) to be assured of buying genuine products.
“Already, we have set up an arbitration and disciplinary committee that headed by reputable people in the market. Most of the time, we refer issues to the Committee”.
Involvement of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs)
He further sought more commitment of OEMs in the fight against the unwholesome products in the market. Mr. Ojikutu said, “The Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are supposed to work closely with us, because most times, we are the people on ground. Though we are not law enforcement, but the owners, the direct beneficiaries of these interventions, ought to work closer with us. With the joint efforts, the people counterfeiting their products will be apprehended and handed over to the police; that is the way forward, because when the counterfeiters are caught who is going to pay the legal charges? If they really sit with us we will get results”.