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27.05.2004 General News

Ministry takes steps to stem rising mobile phone thefts

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Accra, May 27, GNA - The Ministry of Communications is to tackle the rising incidence of cell phone theft through the establishment of identity registers among operators of telecommunication networks. Mr David Gyewu, Deputy Minister of Communications, said a Central Equipment Identity Register and an Independent Equipment Identity Register that would run into each network operator would be set up to assist in checking the rise of cell phone thefts

"Coinciding with the spread of mobile phones is the increase in the number of phones stolen each year. To check this trend, we call for the support of all in our bid to introduce a Central Equipment Identity Register and Equipment Identity Register", the Minister said at the opening of a two-day International Telecommunication Union Standardisation workshop in Accra on Thursday.

Over 50 participants from the West Africa Sub-Region and experts from the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), a UN agency, are attending the workshop organised by the Ministry in collaboration with the National Communications Authority (NCA).

Mr Gyewu said the Ministry was undertaking a study to enable the Government to come up with a strategy to develop appropriate standards, best practices and guidelines for "forward-looking telecommunications regulations policy statements that would guide the operations of the NCA."

The Deputy Minister said the workshop was coming at a crucial time because the country was in the middle of developing an electronic-governance programme that would be accompanied with its attendant issues of cross-government standardisation.

"We are also in the midst of developing a new telecommunications policy with one eye on issues such as cross-border connectivity and hence the need for some standardisation and harmonisation of telecommunications policies within the Sub-Region."

He said the Government had given recognition to the significant developments in the Information Communications Technology (ICT) environment and the growth of the Internet and mobile telecommunication, with its accompanying shift towards convergence of technologies and blurring of boundaries, all of which demanded a multimedia standard approach in the current system of globalisation.

The Deputy Minister said the Government was committed to promoting communications legal and regulatory environment that would be opened in the applications of rules and regulations.

He commended the ITU for bringing participants from the Sub-Region, where the meeting was being held for the first time.

Major James Tandoh (rtd), Acting Director-General of NCA, who chaired the function, called for strong regulatory bodies that were transparent and had a fair and just mechanism in ICT to inspire confidence. He said it had become difficult to recruit experienced regulators from well-established institutions because of poor remuneration in developing countries. Major Tandoh said the ITU was divided into three sectors, namely radio-communication, development and the telecommunication standardisation. He explained that radio-communication was used for coordinating all matters by radio waves whilst the development sector was for encouraging the use and deployment of telecommunications network and services in the developing world.

Mr Bernard Forson Jr., Deputy Director-General of NCA, advised participants to focus and explore other avenues in the communication industry to expand the frontiers of the information age. He said there would be an international conference in ITU in Brazil in October. Mr Zhao Houlin, Director of ITU, praised Ghana for playing active role in the ITU.