A recent announcement from the GSMA at an event in Abidjan is a useful reminder that telecoms crime isn’t always about fraud or phishing.
The GSM Association, which represents the interests of mobile network operators worldwide,has announced that Côte d'Ivoire’s mobile industry has come together to support a major new initiative to guard against the use of stolen devices. At a GSMA regional conference, Mobile 360 – West Africa, in Abidjan, representatives from the GSMA, local mobile operators (Moov, MTN and Orange), the national operators’ association UNETEL, and regulator ARTCI agreed to work together to protect citizens and businesses from stolen mobile devices as well as the fraudulent use of lost devices, an ongoing challenge in the country.
Under the agreement, operators will take steps to upload details of reported lost or stolen devices to the GSMA IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) 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 IMEI information and, where possible, will ensure that stolen devices are blocked; around 12 million stolen devices were blocked last year as part of the scheme.
This scheme forms part of the launch in Côte d'Ivoire of the GSMA’s ‘We Care’ initiative, a series of industry collaborative actions aimed at providing mobile users with a more secure and reliable mobile environment.
The handset theft initiative is a clear reminder of the importance of mobile communications to the region. Another came with the launch, also at Mobile 360 – West Africa, of the 2019 West Africa edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy report series. The report revealed that West Africa’s mobile economy generated over $50 billion in value last year (8.7% of the region’s GDP) and that the mobile ecosystem’s economic contribution will continue to grow, constituting an estimated 9.5% of the region’s GDP by 2023.