The executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC), Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, has said they have installed an equipment to detect counterfeit phones on the market.
“We have already installed equipment, which is going to detect counterfeit phones so that at the point of purchase, you check it with a telecom company and you are told whether its genuine or not. That will help eliminate that counterfeit or second hand phone that may be purchased at that level,” he said.
“As ICTs continue to transform the way we live, through the proliferation of OTT services and value added services, among others, universal standards are required to streamline connectivity, mobile finance, counterfeit devices, spam and cyber security, internet and other things,” Mr Mutabazi said at the opening of a regional preparatory meeting for the World Telecommunications Standardisation Assembly (WTSA) 2020 in Entebbe on Tuesday.
He was responding to questions from journalists on why there are counterfeit communication gadgets on the market. WTSA brings together African players in the telecommunications industry, including government representatives, experts, private sector players and academia to brainstorm on matters of interest ahead of the WTSA in Hyderabad, India, in November next year.
Mr Mutabazi said the assembly is aimed at formulating policies to achieve respective goals as one African position. He said Africans face similar challenges.
“You cannot have technology for Uganda alone; the manufacturer does it for the whole world. Technology uses frequencies, so we have to plan for those frequencies. They don’t stop at borders. All countries must conform to a certain parameter so that the technology is relevant,” he said.
The ICT minister, Mr Frank Tumwebaze, in his speech read by the ministry’s permanent secretary, Mr Vincent Bagiire, said the preparatory meeting provides an opportunity for Uganda and other African countries to align their positions as they prepare submissions to WTSA 2020.
“This is of great importance to Uganda as a country seeking to become a leader in the development of Information and Communication Technologies and leveraging the same for our people’s development aspirations. Uganda is committed to the global agenda of harnessing information to improve people’s lives,” he said. Mr Bagiire said ICT experts need to make policies that enable the transformation of the society through the use of ICT.
The African Telecommunications Union (ATU) secretary general, Mr John Omo, said the new technologies and innovations in the ICT field continue to increase the standardisation gap between developed countries and developing countries. Uganda has proposed a number of policies, which will be discussed during the ongoing meeting.
Mr Mutabazi said: “Currently it is difficult to trace the sources of nuisance calls or location of a caller in emergency situations. Number spoofing is another challenge. Callers are still able to manipulate caller identification information in order to falsify their name and phone number. This can easily facilitate fraud and other adverse activities.”
He also said Africa remains a dumping ground for used and obsolete electronic equipment because of affordability and the limitations in equipment manufacturing. He said there is a need to bridge the gap between the developed and developing countries, keeping in mind the product’s life cycle.
He also said there is a need to emphasise the role of ICT in combating global climate change-related issues. “Uganda is interested in the clear articulation of Africans’ socio-economic dependency on agriculture and how this sector is affected by climate change,” Mr Mutabazi said.
Uganda’s proposal at WTSA 2020
OTT. Also top on the agenda for Uganda is OTT (over the top tax) regulation. Uganda is proposing an African Union declaration on universal OTT for the continent. The UCC said while Africa is a net user of Facebook and Twitter, regulators are hard-pressed to impose local consumer protection, data protection, pricing and antitrust obligations on cross-border OTTs in their markets. “Besides, OTT revenue flows remain skewed against African mobile network operators and infrastructure providers from whose networks OTTs thrive,” Mr Mutabazi said.