The Afghanistan Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (ATRA) has banned the import of mobile phones lacking registered certificates with an IMEI code--the international mobile equipment identity-- which is a 15 digit number unique to each device.
The authority said that some phones have been imported into the country with fake IMEI codes because of insufficient monitoring of shipments.
Phone carriers and manufacturers share IMEI numbers to enable the tracking of smartphones that may be stolen or compromised.
ATRA officials said the move is to prevent the misuse of smartphones and to find them if they are stolen.
“Going forward, the country’s customs will allow the import of those smartphones that have been approved by ATRA, and, meanwhile, they should have an IMEI certificate,” ATRA spokesman Saeed Shinwari said.
The IMEI code is also available on the box of some smartphones.
“A smartphone is real if it shows the same IMEI number as its cover,” said Haji Shafiq, a smartphone seller.
“The solution is that mobile phones should be registered by name as SIM cards are,” said Hasib Mubariz, a smartphone seller.
Experts said the move will help in finding the phones that are stolen.
“It will also have a positive impact on the improvement of security,” said Gada Mohammad Khorasani, an IT expert.