Communications Ministry to clamp down on mobile phone “black market”

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The Ministry of Communication says it is in talks with stakeholders in the mobile phone industry to establish a Central Equipment Identity Registry (CEIR) that would regulate the mobile phone market in the country.

When fully operational in 2020, the CEIR would reduce the influx of stolen, substandard and counterfeit mobile devices imported into the country as well as block all unregistered mobile devices and prevent them from operating on any network in Ghana.

The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, who announced this at a press briefing in Accra on Monday said, the CEIR would be connected to the Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) database as well as have access to the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of approved and blacklisted devices to ensure that mobile devices entering the country are properly authenticated.

“We have had one stakeholder meeting with mobile device dealers and importers but will have more interactions with all interested parties to fashion out the modalities for implementation of the Ghana CEIR which will become operational in 2020,” she said.

According to her, although mobile phone subscribers in the country are estimated to be about 34 million, about five million of the mobile phones imported into the country annually are genuine.

“The unregulated market in Ghana has resulted in a thriving device black market with sales of substandard mobile devices, a high incidence of device theft and cloning of devices. Substandard and smuggled devices are sold through visible retail sites, unofficial retail outlets and online websites,” she decried.

She said the CEIR would provide a scale of use of grey or black market devices in the country.

“It will also be connected to the Equipment Interchange Receipt (EIR) databases of all mobile network operators in Ghana, to synchronize and update data on blacklisted and whitelisted devices in Ghana. This will ensure that only approved mobile devices recognized by the CEIR would function in Ghana. It will generate and store a list of all blacklisted and whitelisted devices in our own repository,” she said.

“The CEIR will also be connected to the National Communications Authority and Security agencies to minimize device theft and use of substandard and counterfeit mobile devices,” she added.

According to Mrs Ekuful, the CEIR would promote security, confidence and trust in the digital infrastructure of the country and generate user acceptance.

“Device theft will be curbed as the CEIR will reduce and discourage mobile device theft threats by enabling individual operators to prevent the use of stolen registered handsets on their own networks,” she said.

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