NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 5 – Handsets maker Nokia has partnered with local agencies to curb infiltration of illegal goods into Kenya denying the country significant amount of revenues.
Nokia General Manager for East and Southern Africa Kenneth Oyolla said rigorous enforcement of anti-counterfeit laws and continuous training of law enforcers could help save Kenya billions of shillings annually and help consumers get value for their money in future.
“Kenya is estimated to be losing over Sh3 billion annually directly through tax evasion for mobile phones at the ports of entry. However, the negative economic impact resulting from job losses, low operator profits, customer dissatisfaction and negative health effects could be more devastating to the economy,” said Mr Oyolla.
Last December, Nokia conducted training for 25 officials from the Weights and Measures Department, the Kenya Bureau of Standards and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency as part of the company’s ongoing anti-counterfeit campaign.
Counterfeiting is the illegal use of intellectual property rights including trademarks, patents, designs and copyrights. Globally, the spread of counterfeit products has increased in recent years due to the transfer of technology, ease of trade and export transactions through the internet, in addition to the recent economic crises.
Mr Oyolla spoke when Nokia held a joint forum with the Kenya Anti-Counterfeits Agency and the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) to update the public about their efforts to counter entry of counterfeit mobile phones into the country.
Although the various stakeholders’ efforts to fight this vice are beginning to bear fruit, Mr Oyolla emphasised that more still needs to be done to completely eradicate the vice.
Towards this end, Nokia is bringing into the market mobile devices that consumers, especially the youthful ones can afford in order to reduce the vice.
Anti-counterfeit Agency Executive Director Stephen Mallowah who was present at the function said the passing of the Anti-Counterfeit Bill in 2009 was a big and positive step forward in the fight against counterfeits and had paved the way for tighter controls and potential economic savings for Kenya economy.
“We estimate that Kenya is losing over Sh40 billion per year currently but things are changing radically as we roll out campaigns such as this one. We are requesting brand owners, organizations and consumers to continue working with by offering any relevant information that can help us fight this vice,” Mr Mallowah said.
Globally, it is estimated that counterfeiting and piracy cost G20 economies US$ 85 billion a year in lost taxes and higher spending on unemployment benefits.
The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has estimated that international counterfeit trade is worth $600 billion a year and makes up 5-7 percent of world trade.