24 January 2013

Nigeria: Mobile Phone Counterfeiting Blamed On Weak Govt Regulations

Mobile phone manufacturer, Tecno Telecoms has traced the proliferation of counterfeit mobile phones in the Nigerian market, to weak government regulations in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

Deputy General Manager of Tecno Telecoms, manufacturer of Tecno brand of mobile phones, Mr. Chidi Okonwo, who gave the information in Lagos, told THISDAY that there were a lot of counterfeit brands of mobile phones in the Nigerian market, noting that unless government strengthened its regulatory policies, the situation would continue unaddressed.

According to Okonkwo, "Government policy on regulations is weak and because of these people took undue advantage of government to do all manner of things in a bid to smuggle unlicensed mobile phones through unauthorised channels into the Nigerian market. The laws are there but there are no strict regulations on compliance."

Government, he added, needed to strengthen its regulatory policies in order to address the challenge that was adversely affecting mobile phone business in the country.

He believed that if there was a strict regulation, people would be discouraged from indulging in phone counterfeiting business.

Sales Manager, West Africa, for ITEL brand of phones, Mr. Shyamol Saho, who confirmed the influx of counterfeit mobile phones in the Nigerian market, also told THISDAY that the ITEL brand suffered counterfeit products in 2012, when two of its products were faked and sold in the Nigerian market.

He warned dealers that were involved in such business to desist from it, promising that ITEL would not compromise on any of its products.

Mobile phone manufacturers are currently facing challenges with counterfeit mobile phones that are making huge sales in the Nigerian market.

Blaming phone dealers for the situation, Okonwo said: "The reason for this is because most resellers are desperate to make profits and in the process, they smuggle in fake products into the market from unauthorised distributors.

Speaking on the effects of counterfeiting in the mobile phone business, Okonwo said: "It comes with lots of pains on the part of the original phone manufacturers and the phone buyers themselves."

According to him, "phone manufacturers lose money in the process because their products were faked and people would unknowingly patronise fake products, thus making the manufacturers to loose market margins to counterfeiters.

"Again, the innocent buys are short-changed because it is difficult to differentiate counterfeit phones from original phones by mere facial looks."

"The issue is that counterfeits are substandard phones that do not last and do not perform at maximum level of efficiency. The buyers will not get value for their money and the original manufacturers would have lost sales in the process," Okonwo added.

He further explained that the situation would bring conflict on brand perception, because the customers may begin to feel that a particular brand is no longer as good as it used to be, and then distant themselves from the brand not knowing that what they have is counterfeit and not the original product of the brand manufacturer.

He called for consumer education in order to create awareness on the part of consumes.

"If there is a strong enlightenment programme from government and the manufacturers, consumers will begin to understand the difference between fake and original product. Then those customers that deliberately prefer to buy counterfeit phones because they appear cheaper, will begin to understand the need to buy original phones, instead of counterfeit."

He suggested the creation of various communication channels for dissemination of information to customers on where to buy genuine phones and how to identify genuine phones from fake ones.

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