Mobile industry in Côte d’Ivoire joins forces with GSMA to tackle handset theft

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Freddy Tchala
Freddy Tchala

THE GSMA announced on Tuesday, May 7 that Côte d’Ivoire’s mobile industry has come together to support a major new initiative to guard against the use of stolen devices. The scheme forms part of the launch of the GSMA’s ‘We Care’ initiative in the country, a series of industry collaborative actions aimed at providing mobile users with a more secure and reliable mobile environment.

To mark the opening of the ‘Mobile 360 – West Africa’ event in Abidjan this morning, representatives from the GSMA; local mobile operators Moov, MTN and Orange; national operators association UNETEL; and the ARTCI (Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications/TIC de Côte D’Ivoire), agreed to work together to protect citizens and businesses from stolen or counterfeit mobile devices as well as the fraudulent use of lost devices, an on-going challenge in the country.

Under the agreement, operators will take steps to upload details of reported lost or stolen devices to the GSMA IMEI1 database to share with the wider ecosystem in order to reduce national and international device crime. Access to the database and industry collaboration will allow operators to exchange undesirable International Mobile Equipment Identity, IMEI, information. The global GSMA IMEI database is updated daily through reports from more than 100 operators around the world. The service protects one billion people worldwide. Around 12 million stolen devices were blocked last year as part of the scheme.

“With this initiative, mobile operators are taking an active role to ensure a trustworthy environment for consumers through public-private collaboration,” Akinwale Goodluck, the head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, said. “Once implemented, Cote d’Ivoire will be the first country in Sub Saharan Africa with multi-operator participation in GSMA blacklisting, essentially providing all customers with the ability to report and block lost or stolen devices across multiple networks.”

“The ARTCI welcomes the official launch of We Care in Côte d’Ivoire that aims to protect consumers against the theft of mobile phones, which often leads to physical aggression and loss of life,” Diéméléou A. Bilé, Directeur Général, ARTCI, said. “The support of the GSMA, to which the national operators are affiliated, will accelerate this project for a national, sub-regional, UEMOA/ECOWAS, pan-African or even global coverage of the service. To this end, I encourage operators in other African countries, and in ECOWAS countries in particular, to work towards the implementation of this service in their respective countries as part of the sub-regional and regional integration.”

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Through the GSMA’s We Care initiative, operators are taking steps to ensure their customers are able to enjoy the transformative benefits of mobile technology in a safe and reliable environment. There are ten focus areas for We Care: promoting digital inclusion; ensuring child protection; environmental care (e.g. management of eWaste); disaster response; SMS spam control; mobile privacy; mobile and health; infrastructure deployment; contribution to public safety and tackling handset theft.

We Care was launched in Latin America in 2014 and is now running 25 campaigns across the region in collaboration with 55 local operators. These campaigns support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, allowing the mobile industry to drive impact at a local level. The launch of the Child Online Protection industry charter in Kenya in November 20182 was the first We Care initiative deployed in Africa.

Supporting quotes

Gertrude KoneKouassi, the executive director, UNETEL, said: “UNETEL is pleased to see the creation of an initiative to fight against handset theft in Côte d’Ivoire. Under the sponsorship of the Ministry of Digital Economy and Post, all the stakeholders, namely the Telecommunications/ICT regulatory body of Cote d’Ivoire, ARTCI, and the private sector represented by the telecoms operators, have decided to actively participate in the GSMA’s We Care programme, which will provide a technical platform to facilitate the neutralisation of terminals after they have been declared stolen. UNETEL, in its role of helping to implement a consensual approach for the harmonious development of the sector, will be actively involved with all stakeholders for a rapid operationalisation of the solution for the benefit of our citizens”

Lhoussaine Oussalah, the directeur général, Atlantique Telecom CI, Moov, said: “Atlantique Telecom Côte d’Ivoire attaches great importance to protecting the personal data of its customers. This is why we are delighted and take concrete steps to the fight against the theft of mobile phones, driven in a consensual way by the GSMA’s actors through the We Care programme. We welcome the commitment of all stakeholders. This commitment should lead to the provision of innovative solutions to secure our consumers and build confidence in the Ivorian telecom industry”

Freddy Tchala, CEO, MTN CI, said: “As a responsible corporate citizen, MTN CI constantly cares about the well-being and safety of the population and especially its subscribers, and the protection of their property. MTN CI therefore endorses this great initiative from the actors of our industry to work together to implement the blocking of lost or stolen terminals, and we pay tribute to the GSMA for its invaluable support. Together, ‘We Care’!”

Bamba Mamadou, the directeur général, Orange Côte d’Ivoire, said: “We are delighted at the implementation of this We Care programme, which was driven in close consultation with all telecoms stakeholders. The active protection of our customers is a priority for Orange Côte d’Ivoire. As an engaged and digital player, it is our responsibility to do all we can to reduce the risks associated with our activities – in this case handset theft.”

– May 8, 2019 @ 18:49 GMT |

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