The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) Thursday, expressed concern over the proliferation of sub-standard handsets, and other ICT devices in the country.
It noted that the negative impact such counterfeit products have on health of users,called for greater concern, hence the urgent need to address it urgently.
As part of measures to address the situation, the NCC said it was embarking on sensitisation workshops across the country , as well as partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
Director, Zonal Operations of NCC, Amina Shehu, stated this at a sensitisation workshop in Bear Area Council of the FCT.
“As we all know, sub-standard, counterfeit or non-type approved handsets are a global menace and much more severe in the third world and developing economies. In Nigeria, as in other developing countries, this problem has been very challenging because of its large population and market size that make such markets very attractive to marketers of non-type approved handsets.
“It is in response to these concerns in the public domain, and the commitment of the NCC in improving quality of service, public safety and the general well-being of phone users that this sensitization is organized.
“This gathering is aimed at sensitizing stakeholders on some key challenging issues in telecommunications in Nigeria. The workshop is one in the series of organized, conscious self-activity of the Commission instituted to underline our belief in forging strategic partnerships with a spectrum of stakeholders. The long term objective is to create regulatory awareness on the need for type approval to consolidate the exponential gains recorded in the telecommunications industry in Nigeria”, Shehu said.
According to him, it was in recognition of this seeming crisis, among other efforts at optimal performance, that the Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, upon assumption of office, evolved a road map.
“To this end, the Executive Vice Chairman, Professor Umar Garba Danbatta, immediately he assumed office, came up with an 8 point agenda which is a road map designed to drive the Commission’s vision. Part of the 8 point agenda is to ensure improvement of quality of service through the promotion of the availability of reliable interoperable, rapidly restorable, critical information and communications technology infrastructure that are supportive of all required services.
“In line with quality of service improvement, the NCC is empowered by the Nigeria Communications Act 2003 section 132 to carry out Type Approval of all Communications equipment for use in the Nigerian Market.
“The task before us therefore, is to form a coalition of forces in a renewed strategic partnership with all the marketers of handsets in the sector, to contain this menace.
“The effect of non type approved handsets include, negative impact on quality of service, health concerns associated with Electromagnetic field emissions from non type approved handsets and the negative
environmental impacts such as E-Waste dumping”, he stated.
This was as he disclosed that the commission was currently collaborating with some telecommunications organisations at the regional level, as part of an all-emcompasaing approach to dealing with industry issues.
Shehu said: “The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) is now undertaking an initiative at the regional level in collaboration with the African Telecommunications Union (ATU), West African Telecommunications Regulatory Assembly (WATRA) and Mobile and Wireless Forum (MWF) to form a regional synergy in developing a framework for combating counterfeiting of ICT Devices in the African sub-region.
“At the National level, the Commission has in place a robust type approval regulation which amongst other things, seeks to discourage the use of counterfeit and substandard ICT products in the Nigerian telecommunications industry.
“The regulation is intended to promote interoperability between communications networks, ensure that communications equipment used in communications networks are safe. Ensure that communications equipment used in communications networks are subject to limits on causing or being affected by electromagnetic radiations.
“Promote the development of communications networks including the supply of communications equipment, and identify applicable technical standards, including those promulgated by international bodies”
On the fight against ICT products counterfeiting, he disclosed thus: “the Commission has carried out series of clampdowns on vendors, dealers, marketers of fake products, and, offenders were prosecuted”.
He revealed that the Commission was collaborating with other national stakeholders such as: Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Customs Services,Law enforcement agencies and environmental regulatory agencies.
He concluded by saying thus: ‘In view of the challenges posed by the proliferation of non type approved handsets and other substandard ICT products, the time has come for all stakeholders to join hands and fight this menace.
“We hope that the workshop will provide a platform for operators, mobile equipment manufacturers, vendors, consumer groups and other stakeholders to raise the level of understanding and awareness on this issue”.
Assistant Director, Mobilisation and Orientation, National Orientation Agency (NOA) at the Bwari Area Council,Grace Jakawa advised the commission to collaborate with the relevant agencies to take the awareness down to the grassroots.
She added that the commission can emulate the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) by introducing a code for customers to text a number and verify the authenticity of the phones.
“It is better to have a code for customers, instead of going through the commission’s website to search,” she said.
On his part, Obeyi Isa, Head, Information and Communication, Institute of Disaster Management and Safety, Bwari Area Council said it was a privilege to have the training.
Isa also said that there had been an advocacy because of the hazards that the non type approved handsets have caused in the environment.
A participant, Akuso Philip, said that the programme had helped him to go out and educate people out there concerning the category of the handsets to be purchased and those not to purchased.
“We have been using phones that we thought were good phones. I had a phone that the moment I put the phone in my pocket, it will generate heat and within a short time the battery will go down.
I have been looking for an opportunity for this type of sensitisation,” he said
Earlier, Eli Peters, Secretary, Bwari Area Council, who represented the Chairman, John Gabaya, thanked the NCC for the gesture and prayed that the purpose of the sensitisation be achieved and let there be results to show for it.
Stella Enenche, Abuja