Globally, there has been a rise in the number of smartphone crimes and this phenomenon is set to increase due to the increasing cost and volume of devices produced annually. In 2016, the Sun newspaper reported that half a million phones were stolen in the UK.
In Argentina, some 5,000 thefts of mobile devices are recorded daily, according to La Nacion while in Peru, 6,000 devices are stolen each day, according to La Republica. In Colombia, the country’s telecom regulator reported a 79% rise in mobile phone theft in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016.
Mobile phone theft is equally pronounced in Africa just like any other continent. A report in a Nigerian newspaper, The Guardian, observed that there appears to be an upsurge in mobile phone theft in the country, especially Androids and iPhones, in addition to rising importation of stolen phones into the country.
To combat mobile phone theft in Africa’s largest economy and the continent’s most populous nation, a company in Nigeria has come up with a solution. The company, known as -E.F. Network Ltd, has developed an app to trace or block unauthorized users. The application, ‘ephonetaxi’, helps to lock out anyone unauthorized, making the phone unusable and unsellable.
The application is designed to protect phone owners and the information stored on their phones from being compromised in the event of a theft, a statement from the company’s public relations officer, Ameh Ochojila, said.
According to the statement, the application helps retrieve and send the user’s stored contents to his or her email. It also locks the phone, preventing unauthorized access to stored pictures, videos, messages and contacts.
Other features of the app include alerting the phone owner of any change in SIM card, monitoring and tracking of the location of the phone and taking pictures of criminals in possession of the phone and sending them to the owner’s email, Ochojila said.
He added that “The owner can do all these remotely despite the phone being lost or stolen.
“Once a phone is locked remotely by the owner, buying it will be a mere waste of money.”
The technical manager of the company, Kelvin Raymond, said that the app could also be used to trace kidnappers as it can reveal the location of mobile phones.
The chairman of the company, Gideon Egbuchulam, said the application was purposefully made to take care of the technical and software needs of Nigerians. He said the company had opened an incubation center in Abuja where he planned to recruit brilliant young Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professionals.
“Given the enabling environment, Nigerian youths will take Nigeria to the next Silicon Valley in Africa.
“Almost all giant tech companies in the world are interested in the Nigerian market and that is the reason our company is recruiting over 1000 people by the end of 2020 to support talented youths,” he said.