The Ministry of Communications has tasked the National Communications Authority (NCA) to immediately liaise with the mobile network operators in the country to determine the prevalence of fake mobile phones in use and the level of potential security risk Ghana is exposed to.
The Ministry says it will not hesitate to disconnect all counterfeit mobile phones in use in Ghana as they pose high security and health risks to the public because they contain high radiation emissions.
Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr. George Andah, gave the prompting Friday when the NCA, the Ministry, the International Telecommunication Union and the United Nations held a flag-raising ceremony to commemorate the 2019 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day in Accra.
Mr. Andah said the Ministry was keen on standardizing the telecommunications industry and described the influx of fake, sub-standard mobile phone devices as one of the major challenges most developing countries face.
“These fake phones do not have the authentic International Mobile Equipment Identity number (IMEI). The presence of such phones pose a health risk as they are believed to contain high radiation emissions because of the absence of the IMEI. They also pose a security risk as well”, he said in his speech to open the ceremony.
He explained that phones without the IMEI pose a security threat as they cannot be tracked and can be used by unscrupulous persons to perpetuate crime. Mr Andah expressed joy at the fact that the NCA has acquired a state of the art laboratory capable of testing all electronic communication equipment to ensure that they are up to required standards.
He said countries like Tanzania, Cameroon, Nigeria and South Africa have had to clamp down on such fake and sub-standard devices as apart from the security and health risks, they also undermine the quality of service by network operators.
The Deputy Minister also noted that for the over five million mobile phones that enter Ghana annually, only about 40 per cent of them have the appropriate duties paid on them.
In this direction, he said the Ministry was also working to ensure that soon, only handsets that have duly had their duties paid are connected by the network providers.
“The Minister of Communications has said this severally that we are going to put in place a system, a platform that will ensure that only devices that have paid the relevant duties are connected to mobile network providers in Ghana. So very soon you’ll all have to make sure that when you bring in your phone from outside, you pay the relevant duty, and that is what will enable you to have your mobile device connected on any network in Ghana. We are working with NCA and the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), and relevant stakeholders and the security services to ensure a seamless implementation of this platform.”
He also admonished all to stop operating radio stations without the right authorization, stop damaging the fibre optic cables of the telcos which has great impact on the quality of service, stop importing fake devices into the market, stop swindling our brothers and sisters with regard to mobile money transactions, stop keeping and operating simbox equipment, stop hiring and using pre-registered sim cards and providing false information or statements during sim card registration process.
“I am sure that I am giving you a clue as to what we expect to happen in this market. We are standardizing the market, we are going to ensure strict compliance to some of these things and a word to the wise is enough.”