Nigeria’s mobile phone market is currently under siege as a lot unpopular brands, many of which are substandard, are fast penetrating the market.
The very low prices of these devices and poor purchasing power of most Nigerians are, however, not helping the situation.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that most of the mobile phones are equipped with many functions and applications, but yet are not standard. A good number of them are said to be generating high-level heat in the course of usage. Charging and voice transmission anomalies, among others, are some other challenges users of such phones encounter.
Some businessmen, it was learnt, are currently investing heavily in the importation of substandard phones into the country.
This trend has seen a quick rise after the Federal Government announced it was going to drive mobile broadband penetration using cheap but qualitative phones.
These businessmen, it was gathered, might want to flood the market with these phones to grab a share of the booming mobile phone market in the country.
Recently, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria said it had sealed a Chinese warehouse stocked with suspected substandard phones. According to the agency, the move was to bring sanity to the mobile phones industry in the country and restate its mandate of ensuring that only products that met the minimum requirements of the Nigeria Industrial Standards would be sold in the Nigerian markets.
SON, during the enforcement exercise in Ikeja, said that the warehouse had mobile phones that were not registered with SON; neither could they be linked with any registered manufacturer nor importer. This, it admitted, could make tracing the phones impossible.
SON said, “We have said that after January 1, 2014 that any phone we see in Nigeria that we cannot trace the manufacturers and importers or which is not registered, will be seized. Phone manufacturers and importers must register their products with us to help us to know if these products qualify to be paraded in our markets.”
Responding to queries from our correspondent as regards the development, the Head Media and Public Relations, Nigerian Communications Commission, Mr. Reuben Muoka, said the SON as a government agency was carrying out its duty of checking standards, which is backed by the Nigerian law.
He said the NCC only ensures that phones sold in the country were type-approved.
“If a phone is type-approved, it cannot be substandard,” he said, adding that, “I think SON has its job to do as a independent regulator and that is what it is doing.”
The NCC had promised that it would take necessary measures to protect the nation from being a dumping ground for fake cell phones.
Muoka had said the commission was conscious of the health implications of fake cell phones on the populace.
He, therefore, said the commission would ensure that only certified phones and phone accessories found their way into the nation’s markets.
The NCC was said to be partnering with the Nigerian Customs Services and the Phone and Allied Dealers Association of Nigeria to that effect.
Muoka had said that, “Checks have revealed that major dealers in the Nigeria ICT market also engaged in the sale of unapproved phones.
“The NCC condemns this in complete terms because of its health implication and effects in the quality of services delivery.
“Worried by the ugly trend, the regulatory authority in partnership with NCS and PADAN has organised a forum in Lagos to sensitise end users on the dangers of buying fake phones.
“We have warned phone dealers to secure an approval for any type of communication equipment before importing them to the country.”
Muoka had also said that the commission would penalise any dealer who sells or installs any communication facilities without obtaining approval from the NCC.
He said approval meant to ensure that all communication equipment complies with international standards before it could be used in the country.
In one of its raids, SON had said, “We have different brands here that we cannot even trace the manufacturers or importers and they are out there selling these products to Nigerians.
“This shows that what they are doing here is illegal and we also suspect that these phones are substandard because if you look at them, we cannot identify the manufacturers and SON does not even know how they came in.”
It was also learnt that some importers of substandard mobile phones now use residential premises as warehouses, cannot be easily traced.
SON had said, “We are making more arrests and we are moving on with the case because we have the right to prosecute them for killing the nation’s economy by depriving Nigerians of good jobs.”
It had also advised landlords to be wary of the kind of tenants renting their apartments, as some tenants used residential houses to carry out mischievous activities.
The Chief Executive Officer, PTV Phones, Mr. Banji Adesanmi, had said substandard phones do not pass through any quality control, as there are no after-sale service or warranty covering.
The NCC had also admitted that substandard phones had contributed to the level of poor services because there is a certain required power in cell phones that would enable it to transmit signals,’’ he said.
It said, “If the requirement is not met, then it will create problems in the network and that is why when people call a particular number they are unable to reach the number.
“This is not necessarily because there is no service there; but because their phones are not powered enough to sense signals because they are substandard.”
( Courtesy Punch & Agencies …….. Source ……. Our Freelance Contributor in Lagos)