The Nigerian mobile phone market has been thriving in recent years, buoyed by the competition between mobile phone brands offering decent and affordable mobile phones for users in the country.
However, for every genuine Samsung, Nokia or Tecno mobile phone, one would arguably find a fake or substandard mobile phone, sometimes bearing the names of these popular brands.
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) reportedly stated that about 250 million fake phones are being sold annually in the country.
This, it states, is especially common with the importation of substandard fairly used phones from the UK, the US or wherever: a market in high demand as customers are attracted by the relative affordability of these phones.
In light of this, the NCC, in its bid to ensure that mobile phones on sale in Nigeria are of sufficient quality and standard to be sold to consumers, has approved about 1,492 different brands and models for use in the country.
According to the NCC's list, Chinese phone brands like Tecno, Infinix, itel, Huawei, ZTE and even recent entrants like Oppo, Xiaomi and Vivo are dominating Nigeria's growing mobile phone market.
Usual suspects such as Samsung, Apple (iPhone), Nokia and Blackberry are also present in the list.
Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta in a report, urged customers to desist from purchasing phones that are not among those tested and found to meet the required standard for operation in the Nigerian market.
He also enjoins mobile phone users to refer to the commission’s website and double-check the list of approved phones from which they can make a more informed choice of the mobile phone to purchase.
When verifying any product on the NCC's page, users should endeavour to type in both the brand name and model number (e.g Samsung Galaxy S8) in the search bar, in order to confirm that their product is approved by the commission.
However, it appears the list is yet to be updated with latest phone models as we couldn't find any phone released after August 2019, but as the telecom regulator wants to increase sensitisation, we expect the list to be updated as soon as possible.
While this initiative could be a step in the right direction, there remains the difficulty of telling an original model apart from the fake model, i.e. telling a fake Samsung Galaxy from the original. In this case, mobile brands might have an important role to play.
With the right implementation, this might prove to be a win-win situation for consumers and the menace of fake phones in Nigeria.