More than 600,000 counterfeit mobile phones lost their network connection overnight in Tanzania, according to local telecommunication authorities. With this operation, Tanzania follows the example set by Cameroon, Nigeria, and South Africa, which have also locked counterfeit mobiles out of their networks.
According to estimates, some 1.2 million counterfeit mobiles are in circulation among the 33 million Tanzanian mobile phone users. While some owners complain that they unknowingly used counterfeit mobiles, the measure was welcomed by many. Among the ranks of the proponents were local dealers who now hope for increased sales of original telephones.
The Tanzanian authorities justified this measure saying that it would also improve protection against terrorism and crime. Counterfeit mobile phones do not have valid IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity) serial numbers, which are necessary for identifying and locating mobile phones. Additionally, counterfeit phones might also issue higher levels of radiation and could release more dangerous component materials such as lead.
The authorities used the IMEI numbers to disconnect the counterfeit mobiles from the network, excluding telephones with inadmissible serial numbers from accessing the mobile network. Users were previously given the chance to test the authenticity of their mobiles by verifying their IMEI numbers via text message.