As part of its efforts towards sanitising the Nigerian market of substandard mobile phones and eliminating the high level of complaints on issues bothering around quality, warranty and product liability requirements of mobile phones, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is partnering the Consumer Protection Council (CPC) and the Phone and Allied Products Dealers Association (PAPDA).
According to the Acting Director General, SON, Mr. Paul Angya, the use and sale of substandard mobile phones and accessories in the country has become a menace affecting the quality of service among other consequences.
The DG who disclosed this during a stakeholders forum on phone and allied products in Lagos, pointed out the challenges faced by the sector, agreeing and sharing ideas on how to improve the sector and the Nigerian economy at large.
He said; “It is important to note that over the years technological growth and the need for ease of communication as a tool for socio economic development has not been fully utilised. There is expansion of Information Communication Technology infrastructure of the country. The health hazards and the impact of substandard phone on users, Network quality and the economy is appalling; hence the need for effective monitoring of this sector but not without first educating the relevant stakeholders on the requirements of the standard, compliance and punishment for offenders which necessitated this forum.
“Substandard phones are not durable and have a higher radiation level under extreme temperatures and during charging these phones can explode resulting in loss of lives and properties. Since fake/substandard phones are not tested for compliance with industry safety standards and other national and international standards, they might contain dangerous levels of harmful elements such as lead (Pb). They usually have inoperable speakers, low resolution cameras, slow and old processors that result in poor network connectivity.”
“However, the government through the SON intends to ensure the safety of its citizens while using mobile phones and tablets through compliance to standards and enforcement of standards. In August 2013, our enforcement team visited the computer village to address PAPDA and CAPDA on the concerns that there is an increase in the influx of substandard phones which has proliferated the Computer Village market and the need for all dealers; importers to register their brand with SON for traceability and compliance with standards.
Angya mandated the dealers that the information on their product must include the following as a minimum; the name of the manufacturer, the importing company with traceable address and identification codes which will be made available to the SON, stressing that only a few dealers have complied with this requirement.
He said; “After June, this year 2016, all proliferators of fake and substandard mobile phones and accessories will be prosecuted. Customers must obtain receipt and a 12month warranty on purchased phones. Any phone unregistered with the SON will be seized and the offenders prosecuted. The SONCAP, (Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment) scheme was established to ensure only, tested and safe products are brought into the Nigerian market. All importers and manufacturers must comply with these requirements. It is expected that at the end of this forum, manufacturers, importers, dealers and consumers will be aware of what to look out for in a quality, safe and durable mobile phone or accessories and their individual role in terms of product liability.
“Complaints about the issues of liability have flooded the authority and this problem has gotten to an epidemic level. We have received so much complaints about quality, standards of handsets and refusal of your members to compensate or refund to the victims what is due to them.
“Starting from June this year, we will be marking shops of products that are registered with SON. We are going to have stickers that cannot be faked. Anybody who is registered with SON will be displayed to say this is a SON registered phone dealer and once we come and we find out that you do not have this sticker, we will confiscate the products. Whether you have the best phones in the world or not as long as it is not registered, there is a presumption that you are dealing with fake and substandard products. We will seal up your shop and this effective from June.
The DG noted that the use of phones in the Nigerian market has enormously increased in the last few years and is still increasing, maintaining that the increase has induced the high influx of substandard phones in the country even after SON and CPC have raided the markets severally.
The Executive Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) who was represented by Mr Kenneth Uzoekwe, stated that African countries especially Nigeria have been identified as home for imported substandard goods, stressing that this trend applies in almost all goods; household appliances, consumables, electronic devices, automobiles to mention a few.
He noted that counterfeiting is a global concern in view of its direct correlation with theft, crime, tax, evasion, poor service delivery and the likes, pointing out that according to reports, worldwide combined shipments of mobile phones for 2015 were estimated to exceed 1.9 billion units.
He said this number constitutes about 15 to 20 per cent of the global fake mobile phone market in terms of units sold, noting that the obvious negative economic impact of this ugly trend on genuine manufacturers, government and dealers culminate in brand devaluation, loss of revenue and tax, healthy competition, national security and loss of employment opportunities.
“This menace also poses danger to health and safety of consumers. It is our hope that this forum will come up with a resolution that will help government facilitate inter-agency collaboration in checking the menace,” he said.
He said those dealing with fake and substandard phones should start thinking of a new business to do, saying that later in the year, fake phones will not be allowed on the network. We are working with agencies and international organization to pick up all the genuine handsets with IMEI numbers to be registered on our database.