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Kenya must act on counterfeits, study says

NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 15 – The government is being asked to urgently deal with the trade in counterfeit products with urgency, as proceeds could be funding criminal activities in the country.

TNS Research International Chief Executive Melissa Baker said on Friday setting up counterfeiting rackets required a lot of money, which criminals will readily invest in it.

Speaking during the release of a survey on counterfeits, Ms Baker said the distribution network required to sell fake products is an indicator of criminal activity.

"Normally that kind of trade has links with organized criminal activity. On its own, it is already criminal activity," Ms Baker said.

Trade in counterfeit products is estimated to deprive the government close to Sh50 million annually.

According to the Kenya Revenue Authority, the most common counterfeit products are batteries, pharmaceuticals, detergents, electronics and beauty products.

This has created stiff competition for genuine products with manufactures even attributing it to declining sales and profitability.

One reason the industry has grown is be due to the weak legislation that exists in tackling the menace. Those involved usually get light prison sentences or even get away with fines.

The report titled \’Scope & Impact of Counterfeits in the Consumer goods sector\’ says counterfeit trade continues to thrive due to the easy access to the products as well as being a highly profitable business.

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TNS Research Director Joseph King\’ori said counterfeiters were continuously refining their trade and now target fast moving retailer products targeting the low-income earners with attractive pricing.

"They know that the most popular products in the market will sell like hot cakes and counterfeiters target especially in the rural area or with low income and have no time to check whether a product is genuine or not," Mr King\’ori said.

Mr King\’ori said there is need to strengthen and enforce laws dealing with the menace.

"We need KEBS and KRA to aggressively go after suspected counterfeiters and anybody benefiting from it," he said.

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