Safaricom’s Nzioka Waita’s comments regarding user questions on Counterfeits

Nzioka Waita Safaricom

Nzioka Waita SafaricomBased on questions going on about the internet and offline, I sought to iron out some misinformation that mobile phone users may be having regarding what counts as counterfeit, what exactly will happen and if there are lines drawn regarding the impending switch off by CCK in two days, that being the 30th of September. Basically users sought to know where they lie in regards to devices they use, based on mode of acquisition (like in a case of those who bought devices outside the country, iphone users who chances are that they have jailbroken devices and many other questions). Below is Nzioka Waita, Safaricom’s Director of Corporate Affairs’ answers to questions I was able to compile in an email interview:

Just for the sake of people who might not be aware, how do we define Fakes? Does a random person who went to China and got a device done and named it, say “Nzioka Wireless” fit in? “

The term is counterfeits, they are phones without genuine IMEIs allocated to them; for more details on the IMEI global standard, please refer to GSMA which is the global body responsible for setting industry standards for the manufacture and operation of gsm based mobile devices and network equipment.

Is there any channel for redress if somebody thinks they have been shut off in error? Are the systems fool-proof?
The issue is not really subjective, if the phone has a genuine IMEI which can be verified by sending the number (*#06#) to SMS 1555 data base. The data base is maintained and updated hourly by GSMA.

What are the legal implications of the switch off. What if people get together and sue? Who does the buck stop with?
The regulator CCK.

Does the switch-off directive include unregistered devices or just devices without a proper IMEI? Does this apply to devices other than phones, like modems, tablets et-al?
There is no requirement to register a device ( this should not be confused with SIM registration which is another process entirely). The devices affected are all those that use the GSM mobile networks and are do not have genuine IMEIs.

Do we have a portal that has a detailed roadmap of the switch-off, who will be affected, how the device relates to the sim card.
There is a detailed step by step information guideline issued by the CCk, which has been complimented by a 90 day public awareness campaign. For more details check out the CCK website.

The mention about Jailbroken iPhones, phones from Grey market, second hand imports, where is the line?
The issue is only about phones without genuine IMEIs on the network , irrespective of their origin or mode of sale. As a caution, the process of jail breaking network locked devices, may in some instances tamper with the IMEI. As a by the way under the Kenya Information Communication Act, it is illegal to manipulate the IMEI of an electronic device without the manufacturer’s consent.

What is Safaricom’s plan regarding the users who will have their phones go under, any relief like what Samsung and Orange are doing with subsidized phones?
We have been running an affordable device campaign for the last 2 months and we have targeted specifically those with counterfeit devices through SMS.

I want to assume CCK owns the verification system, has Safaricom as the biggest industry player by mass considered communicating to the user who may not still be unaware about the process?
The CCK are indeed custodians of the system, but the database is the GSMA data base. As indicated above we have sent messages to all 680K subscribers who will be affected by the switch off.

Bitange Ndemo noted that the government is losing 3.2 Billion in tax revenues from counterfeit phones, the 3 million of them, would this mean that the general population using counterfeit phones purchased them for over Kshs 10,000 to justify that tax? (the information is actually from Anti-Counterfeit Agency)

I Can’t really comment as I am not privy to the context of the PS’s comments, however based on anecdotal feedback from customers, a lot of the handsets are in the 5-12k cost range on account of the fact that the users were looking for ‘smart like’ devices with features like analogue tv, radio, data and voice all in one.


  1. Thank you Nzioka for the utterly swift response to Martin’s request. I am impressed. This article goes a long way in demystifying the process and some of the parameters involved particularly as to do with IMEI manipulation and the inherent consequences. I am an IPhone user and I witnessed the confusion following the announcement about unlocked/ jailbroken devices. My device is not jailbroken (thank Heavens) but I know most iphones in the market are. We can only hope the majority will survive.

    • The IMEI is unique to the hardware of the phone so unless you were flashing, a genuine phone would not be affected by jailbreaking/ rooting. As for the legality, that obscure piece of the law was meant to target “hackers” although enforcement is nearly impossible.

Comments are closed.