Written by Rose Athumani | The Daily News | October 14, 2012 TANZANIA will join her neighbour Kenya in getting rid of counterfeit telephone handsets in the country by switching them off. Speaking to "Sunday News' the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) Acting Corporate Communication Manager Mr Semu Mwakyanjala said the regulatory authority is first planning to educate the public on the need to buy genuine mobile phones. "It is a long term plan to switch off counterfeit mobile phones in operation, for now we are only focusing on educating the public into buying genuine mobile phones," Mr Mwakyanjala noted. He said the move will eventually be taken by all the other East African Member states, including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. The Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) was recently quoted as to saying that counterfeit gadgets will be switched off at the end of November this year. A survey conducted by New Vision in Uganda showed that mobile phone dealers in Uganda are feeling the pinch as customers no longer want to purchase the ‘Made in China' phones believing most of Chinese phones are fake. Mr Mwakyanjala said the aim of blocking the counterfeit mobile phones is to boost security, noting that for the exercise to work, the regulatory authority depends on cooperation of all stakeholders in the communication industry. Explaining the software used for blocking counterfeit phones, Mr Issac Mruma from TCRA Consumer Affairs department said the Central Equipment Identification Registrar (CEIR) is employed to identify fake mobile phones and then block them. Mr Mruma said the country is in the process of acquiring the software, however it will only be implemented after the public is aware of the advantages of genuine mobile phones. Although Mr Mwakyanjala said the initiative to switch off fake mobile phones was agreed on in a meeting of the East African Communication Organization (EACO). The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) was also quoted saying that it will soon announce the date for switching off the fake mobile phones. RURA said it is working on the methodology to disconnect fake phones off their network and they will work with telecommunication companies to execute the exercise. RURA noted that it will use the International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) number through network service providers to differentiate between fake and genuine handsets. In Tanzania early this month the deputy minister for Communication Science and Technology Mr January Makamba was quoted in a local daily saying that the country is working out plans on how to deal with fake handsets in light of Kenya's move to switch them off. Mr Makamba said the fear is that those fake phones from Kenya will flood the Tanzania market, promising to convene a meeting with TCRA to deliberate on the issue. Reliable sources that declined to be named had noted that Telecom service providers are reluctant for government to institute the move to switch off all fake mobile phones, for fear of losing customers. However, recently Vodacom Tanzania Managing Director Mr Rene Meza was quoted saying that the move is commendable since it is aimed at protecting consumers' rights and heavy investments made by multination companies. TCRA is participating in the Financial Service and Investment exhibition week at Mnazi Mmoja grounds, where it is giving presentations to small and medium entrepreneurs on financial issue.