The Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) will be implementing type approval regulation for all mobile phones in the country as a measure of combating counterfeit handsets.
The regulation implementation follows numerous complaints by consumers to the Ministry of Trade and Industry’s Consumer Protection Unit (CPU).
“Type approval ensures that manufacturers’ equipment operates at the highest technical standards, they meet operating performance requirements and that all units of a particular model operate in a similar manner,” said Cynthia Phaise, a BTA official.
Mobile phone users in the country have been lodging complaints since April last year. They claim to have been tricked by unscrupulous vendors into purchasing deceiving mobile phone brands, phones with a very short battery life span, secondhand or reconditioned phones.
The counterfeit mobile phones allegedly come from China, which use smuggled chips and hold no certification from the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information, are not licensed by various governments and come with false international mobile equipment identity codes.
The widespread use of counterfeit phones is blamed on the fact that they come at a price which is considered to be affordable for most people living in African countries. Kenya was amongst countries that recently switch off illegal handsets, with Rwanda and Tanzania set to follow. Nigeria also has a serious problem with counterfeits.
The counterfeit mobile phones are mass produced and present a large range of quality related issues such as high electromagnetic radiation. The counterfeit mobile phones reportedly compromise Botswana’s network security.
The BTA said consumers will be able to recognise the type approved mobile phones easily through a special identification marker. The type approval identification will include a sticker and “type approved” etched into the device.
Furthermore the BTA has teamed up with the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS), mobile operators and the Botswana Unified Revenue Authority to decide when the phases of type approval regulation will take effect.