Azerbaijan fighting illegal import of mobile phones
By Nigar Orujova
Even imposing a fee for registration of IMEI-code of mobile devices for personal use or commercial sale has not yet reduced the growing import of mobile phones in the country, Head of Service Center of DiVi Company Jumshud Aliyev said.
Paid registration of mobile devices in Azerbaijan was introduced on November 1. The cost of registration of IMEI-code of mobile devices imported for personal use stands at 5 manats ($6.3) and for commercial sale 0.2 manats ($0.25).
The system of registration of IMEI-code of mobile phones has been commissioned from May 2013, he said. The terms of registration presuppose that companies engaged in the import of mobile phones provide the structural units of the Communications and High Technologies Ministry with the certificates of conformity and a unique code that is assigned to the device by the manufacturer.
Registration of mobile devices imported into Azerbaijan for personal use is carried out in post offices and service centers of mobile operators.
"It was assumed that the number of mobile devices imported for personal use will not be so great. However, the existing gap increased the flow of contraband products. The devices come into the market illegally and are sold at the lowest possible prices. So, the customers themselves should register them in the IMEI-codes database. That is why it became a paid service, though it is unlikely that this method can completely block illegal imports," he stressed.
Aliyev said that the growth of gray imports affects the official statistics on deliveries of mobile phones to the country. Over the past two years, the government has been trying to reduce supplies of mobile devices to Azerbaijan.
The country imported 55,900 mobile phones and other handsets running on wireless networks, including tablet computers and cordless phones, totaling $3,095 million in first eight months of 2014, the State Statistics Committee reported.
Compared with the same period of 2013, the number of imported mobile phones in Azerbaijan decreased by 4.8 percent, thus 53,341 mobile phones were imported in the country last year. In value terms, this figure increased by 28.4 percent.
Aliyev said that another reason lies in the inadequate funding of the procedure of registration of mobile devices. From this point of view, the expert considers the registration on a paying basis which may be called expedient.
"Registering devices are not among the direct responsibilities of the mobile operators, and they have to be paid for services rendered to the Ministry to cover the costs," he said.
The IMEI-code registration is available at the offices of Azerpoct, service centers of mobile operators, via electronic government portal (e-gov.az) and site imei.az. The time needed for accomplishing the registration procedure of mobile devices has been reduced from two days to 24 hours.
Mobile devices imported into the country must be registered within the first 30 days. This rule does not apply to tourists and visitors coming to Azerbaijan, whose mobile phones works in roaming.
At present, the IMEI-code database includes more than 13 million mobile phones. The new system allows obtaining accurate information about the state of the mobile phone market.
The IMEI-code can be checked in the database using the site imei.az.
Moreover, individuals and legal bodies engaged in the sale of mobile devices in Azerbaijan without registering their IMEI-code would be held responsible, the Communications and High Technologies Ministry said earlier. These measures will be taken to protect the rights of consumers.
Azerbaijan, a country with a mobile phone penetration rate of 110 percent, now prefers Samsung phones, the second popular here is Apple, and the third one is Nokia.