Photograph — The Fiscal Times

Anything is possible in Computer Village, Africa’s largest market for ICT accessory. Anyone who has been there can attest that some of the merchants, and “village boys” or middlemen can perform miracles that could only have been possible in Bible days; like having an iPhone 6plus sell for N100, 000 or a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge for N150, 000. However, many of such phones are either stolen or lost properties.

To curb this awful activity, and rid the hub of fraud and other criminal activities, the Computer and Allied-Product Associations of Nigeria (CAPDAN), has created a platform in conjunction with an Information and Communication Technology security solution firm, Fonreg. The platform gives members the opportunity to purchase phones from registered and reliable sources, to check IMEI numbers for free, and to report a lost/stolen phone. According to Ahmed Ojikutu, the President of CAPDAN, the platform aims to protect the interest of both the buyers and sellers of phones.

How does it work?

Individuals purchasing new phones are to register it on the database – fonreg.com.ng. And if your phone gets lost or stolen, you simply change the status of your account. Your IMEI number is automatically added to the database of lost or stolen phones and forwarded to law enforcement agencies. That way, it can be tracked. People can also check the IMEI number of a phone they are about to purchase to see if it has been reported as lost or stolen on the database.

However, this great initiative is not without a shortcoming; a phone can only be tracked or checked if its details have been logged in on the platform. It is therefore advisable to get everyone on board, traders and phone owners. And seeing as this initiative was launched a few months ago to very little publicity and consequently, reception, more should be done to engage the public and get them registered.

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