Kenya to cut off counterfeit mobiles

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Kenya to cut off counterfeit mobiles

Millions of devices affected.

The Kenyan Government will press ahead with plans to switch off network access to what it says are counterfeit mobile phones by September 30, in a bid to stem their use.

The move to cut off network access to the phones has been delayed twice to allow subscribers replace their existing devices.

However, Kenya's director-general of the country's Communications Commission, Francis Wangusi, said the new September 30 deadline was firm, according to the BBC.

It is believed the move could affect up to three million counterfeit phones in Kenya, out of a total 29 million in the country.

The phones' counterfeit status is largely discovered through use of duplicate IMEI, or serial numbers.

The Government launched an awareness campaign this year to warn subscribers of the alleged health and security risks associated with counterfeit mobile phones, which are defined as "copies of popular brands and models made from sub-standard materials".

Phasing out the counterfeit phones with truly unique IMEIs will help the government track users and limit violence ahead of the general election, scheduled for March next year.

The 2007 presidential election saw widespread unrest, with some 1300 people killed and hundreds of thousands being forced from their homes, according to the BBC. Ensuring all mobiles are registered could act as a deterrent against violence.

"As the general elections draw near, we... have an obligation to ensure that the mobile telecoms industry is not used to perpetrate instability and to incite violence," said Francis Wangusi, Communications Commission of Kenya director-general.

If all three million counterfeit phones are properly recycled, almost a 100 kilograms of gold and nearly a ton of silver could be recovered, based on estimates by Nokia's general manager of East Africa, Bruce Howe.

Samsung and Nokia have partnered with a local recycling company to allow users to dispose of their counterfeit phones, to prevent millions ending up in landfills.

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