The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has launched the Anti-Illegitimate Mobile Communication Devices Campaign dubbed “SIMU KLEAR” that will seek to draw public attention to and discourage the use of illegitimate devices.
Speaking at the Press conference to launch this campaign on Tuesday, the UCC Acting Executive Director Fred Otunnu said SIMU KLEAR is aimed at sensitizing the public about the dangers of using illegitimate mobile communications devices which, in most cases, lowers the quality of service communication devices which, in most cases, lowers the quality of service on communication networks thus affecting the experience of consumers and businesses.
Under Section 5(k) of the Uganda Communications Act 2013, the Uganda Communications Commission is mandated to promote and safeguard the interests of consumers and operators regarding the quality of communications services and equipment.
Section 5 (1) of the Act also tasks UCC to set national standards and ensure compliance with national & international standards and obligations laid down by international communications agreements and treaties to which it is a party. These include Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC), Radio Frequency (RF) requirements, Equipment Safety and Health Requirements Technology, and Performance and Functionality Requirements.
With the backing of the law and policy Otunnu says UCC engaged a number of stakeholders including NEMA, URA, URSB, and CSOs, Traders Association, Academia, Policy makers, and many more with interest in this campaign, the key stakeholders being Mobile network operators.
“The commission has been in the process of implementing the campaign for a long time but was curtailed by activities around conducting sufficient awareness and having a solid policy and legal framework”, remarked Otunnu.
Next Campaign Steps
The commission is now planning to engage on consumer sensitization and empowerment activities. This is because “the end user has the last say on whether or not to use the devices. But the empowerment can only be realized if the user is fully sensitized on the effects of such illegitimate devices on the network, the environment and the human beings. Knowledge is power”, Otunnu explained.
He further says “We are going to have series of knowledge dissemination and engagement activities in form of classrooms or workshops, activations, mass media and other platforms in order to deliver and achieve the campaign goal. It is also aimed at causing behavioral change towards some under standards”.
The SIMU KLEAR campaign is going to be run in phases to allow people to shift and traders to stop importing devices that have not gone through the conformity test. And to prepare for the disposal of the illegitimate devices with proper disposal guidance in collaboration with partners.
Otunnu appealed to all consumers to know their phones, know what they are purchasing, know where they are purchasing from; address and location for easy redress.
The SIMU KLEAR campaign will run for a period of over 6 months to build public awareness about the dangers of using illegitimate mobile communication devices.
“We will have all devices still access the network during these six months of the campaign. Thereafter the campaign will transit to the next phase of blocking access to the network for all illegitimate devices but short messages will be sent out to all users of such devices to warn and inform them of the forthcoming block,” Otunnu said.
This campaign comes as UCC joins the rest of the world in fighting against the use of substandard communication devices.
Since Feb. 2022, UCC has successfully implemented a concerted stakeholder engagement process entailing engagements with the public sector, sister agencies and regulators, policymakers, industry actors, and the media, among others.
“When you buy any device, you want it to deliver the performance, functionality, and safety expected of devices in that family. This is the purpose of standards. Illegitimate Mobile Communications devices compromise on those standards in favor of returns, impacting value proposition and safety,” the Commission said.
The Public and International Relations at UCC Rebecca Mukite said this campaign is aimed at sensitizing users of communications services on dangers of using illegitimate mobile communication devices or devices that use simcards.
She explained that the illegitimate devices are constituted by make; devices with tempered IMEI, stolen devices, and devices not temper-proofed by UCC.
Dangers in using illegitimate/fake devices (Not tasted for conformity)
- Electrical malfunctioning.
- Mechanical malfunctions.
- Health and safety vulnerabilities.
- Affects quality of service and disrupt the network.
- Exposure to cyber vulnerabilities.
Every legitimate mobile phone has a unique identifier that registers it to a carrier network. This number is called the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number. The IMEI number can be used to verify the legitimacy of a phone.
For one to check whether their phone is legitimate or not, Dial *197*4#, and the IMEI will automatically be displayed on the phone screen. Alternatively, the IMEI number can be found on the body of the mobile phone, usually under the battery. You can also *#06# to know your mobile phone IMEI.
It is estimated that over 180 million counterfeit mobile phones are sold globally per annum and this represents a potential loss of UGX178.9 trillion to legitimate device manufacturers and governments.