In the early hours of Sunday, the Tanzanian government banned fake phones in a bid to improve security and address health concerns in the country.
People who use fake phones in the East African country have now been forced to replace them with genuine phones following the enforcement of the ban.
Official figures show that 3% of Tanzania’s phones are fake hence the move has seen at least 1.2 million fake phones facing disconnection.
However, Tanzania is not the only African country to switch off fake phones as Cameroon, South Africa and Nigeria have also enforced bans on fake phones in the past.
Counterfeit handsets lack authentic International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) numbers that are crucial to identifying and tracking mobile phones, making it easier for criminals to escape detection.
Tanzania also claimed that the ban is aimed at protecting users’ health. The fear is that fake handsets, which are not subjected to safety tests, emit more radiation and contain harmful elements such as lead.
The mobile phones have been switched off using a number called International Mobile Station Equipment Identity (IMEI). All mobile phones are assigned one.
Tanzania’s communication agency launched a new system in December called the Central Equipment Identification Register, which is a database of all IMEI numbers.
When paired with systems at the network providers, it is able to block all counterfeit phones.
Mobile phone users in Tanzania can check whether their phones are genuine or fake by:
1 – Dialling *#06# to get the handset’s IMEI
2 – Sending a text with the IMEI number to 15090
3 – The text reply lists phone’s model name – if the correct name is not given, the phone is a fake.