April 15, 2017 - Four million mobile phones will be out of service as Ethiopia is on the way to implement Equipment Identity Registration System (EIRS), according to the Reporter. Phones, whose International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number is not identified by the System, will be obsolete, according to new directive by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT).
The new system, which was said to enter into implementation last month, was delayed as EthioTelecom and local mobile assemblers are yet to agree on how to replace the four million phones.
According to industry sources, the government and local assemblers will share the cost where users of unregistered mobile phones will be given the chance to exchange the unregistered mobile phones with the registered ones.
“We are yet to agree on the terms,” an industry source said. For instance, as one option, Ethio Telecom would share 55 percent of the cost while the assemblers will take the rest.
But this will be difficult for the local assemblers as most of them are not operational at the moment because of shortage of hard currency, said the same source.
“This was one of the reasons behind the delay on the approval of the directive,” the same source told The Reporter.
Currently, there are around 14 local mobile assemblers registered.
According to studies conducted by local assemblers association, close to 65 percent of Ethiopian mobile market is filled by contraband mobile phones smuggled from neighboring countries. The remaining 31 percent of the market is commanded by 14 assemblers working in the mobile industry. Out of the 65 percent, the IMEI of some four million mobile phones could not be identified by the new System. (Reporter)