The government has blocked 1.82 million counterfeit International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers since the exercise began last month, with the control against the use of fake devices in the country sustained on a daily basis.
Vice-President Samia Suluhu Hassan told delegates to the fourth Annual Mobile360 Africa in Dar es Salaam yesterday that the fake phones were blocked through GSMA, which tracks bogus IMEI numbers and send them to Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
TCRA, the telecommunication industry regulator, prohibits the devices from entering the local market. Ms Suluhu, in a speech that Minister of Works, Transport and Communication Makame Mbarawa read on her behalf, said the government via TCRA remains firm against the use of counterfeit phones in the local markets by blocking their IMEI numbers.
TCRA has contracted GSMA to track and submit weekly updates of lists of IMEI numbers for smooth operation of the Central Equipment Identification Registrar (CEIR) launched late last year.
“These updates from GSMA to TCRA’s data base has enabled the government to block over 1.8 million counterfeit IMEIs. TCRA continues using CEIR to monitor counterfeit IMEIs to ensure they don’t enter the local market,” she explained.
The VP acknowledged the key role that mobile phone technology plays in addressing social and economic development challenges across Tanzania and Sub Sahara Africa through digital inclusion.
“The mobile phone sector is playing a critical role in driving financial and social inclusions in many African countries through providing access to financial information and services,” she said, adding that digital inclusion helps to drive economic and infrastructure development.
The VP said currently mobile phone subscriptions in the country stands at 39.8 million, with 20 million internet users. The construction of the national ICT backbone, the National Fibre Optic Cable Network infrastructure, that connects all regional and districts headquarters in the country has also contributed to internet service affordability. The backbone is also linked to international submarine cable to bridge the gap in the digital inclusion.
“We in Tanzania are already enjoying the benefits of ICT as the price of internet access and transmission has significantly dropped... the backbone infrastructure will bring with it more affordable rates for businesses and citizens,” she charged.
There were 700 kilometres of fibre when the government embarked on the installation of the national backbone but today the country has 18,000km of fibre, said Ms Samia, noting: “ I am sure after two years we will have 25,000km of the fibre network in the country.”
The fibre network also provides neighbouring countries like Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda Zambia and Malawi with access to super highway submarine cable available in the shores of Indian Ocean in Dar es Salaam. GSMA Director General Mats Granryd, speaking at the meeting, said it’s difficult today to imagine a world without mobile connection. “As an industry we are committed to connect everything and everyone to a better future.”
He described Africa, the second largest continent, as the least penetrated, with less than half of its population subscribing to mobile services. Launching the ‘Mobile Economy: Africa 2016’ report yesterday, Mr Granryd said Tanzania was among eight markets in Africa with significant contribution to mobile phone industry growth on continent.
He said in the next five years, there will be an additional 168 million people connected by mobile services across Africa, reaching 725 million unique subscribers by 2020. “Eight markets will account for the majority of this growth, most notably Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tanzania, which will together contribute over a third of new subscribers,” said Mr Granryd.
According to the report, over half a billion people across Africa use mobile phone services as the continent continues to migrate rapidly to mobile broadband networks.
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