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New laws may loosen grip of fake, China-made handsets in Africa

Michael Malakata | Feb. 28, 2013
The dominance of China-made fake handsets on the African mobile market may be set to wane, following the formulation of policies by several countries in the region to block the phones.

The Ugandan, Kenya and Zambian markets as well as other markets in East and West Africa are flooded with wide range of cheap mobile handsets from China bearing Nokia's name. For example, many Nokia E89i, E70i and E99i branded, double SIM card handsets are made in China under the Nokia brand name but without Nokia features and tones and Nokia confirmation numbers to verify the authenticity.

In 2011, Chinese embassies in the region promised to aggressively crack down on companies and people importing counterfeit electronic products from China. Embassy officials said the Chinese government would start inspecting all ports in China and monitoring goods from the production end to prevent counterfeit electronic products from being exported to Africa, claiming China's reputation was being damaged. But apparently nothing has been done so far to remedy the situation and to protect China's reputation in the region.

Nokia has however, responded to the switching-off of counterfeit phones with the launch of a $20 basic phone. The company has also unveiled an $85 phone with some internet access and lower-priced versions of its Lumia smartphones.

The entry-level Nokia 105, the company's lowest-priced device ever, with a color screen, is aimed at first-time buyers in markets such as Africa to counter the Chinese made phones that are being sold cheaply.


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