, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 6 – The Anti-Counterfeit Agency has again called on the government to increase funding to strengthen its capacity in the fight against the trade of fake goods in the country.
The agency’s CEO Stephen Mallowa said the government and Kenyans at large have not been able to fully appreciate the institution’s existence, which was established under Section 3 of the Anti-Counterfeit Act, 2008.
Mallowa said the counterfeit trade which is currently robbing the economy close to Sh70 billion annually may continue to grow, due to the increase of many products getting into the country.
He insisted on the need for the government to also increase the number of employees who are currently less than 100.
“I will continue saying it, that we have significant constraints in terms of budget and you know this is everything because we are fully dependent on government funding. I have to admit that the development partners have been fairly good to us. They have supported us in capacity building and a few other initiatives,” Mallowa said.
The agency plans to this year do an intense research on the actual status of the vice in the country.
“We haven’t done a comprehensive research. But in the next coming year, we will do a proper focused research together with KIPPRA (Kenya Institute for Public Policy Research and Analysis) to actually quantify the losses we are incurring as a result of counterfeit,” Mallowa added.
He said most of Kenyans are ignorant and considering the tough economic times, the fake products are fast moving and hard to distinguish from the genuine ones.
Most of the counterfeited goods include electrical and electronic equipment, detergents, pens, branded stationery and cosmetic products.
“But something like phones at least, with the collaboration with the Communications Commission of Kenya we have been able to fight that. Otherwise a time like this last year, it was leading,” the CEO said.
He was speaking on Wednesday during the launch of an SMS based system ,dubbed ‘Zinduka’ , by East African Cables to enable its customers verify the authenticity of cables before purchase.
Customers will scratch a sticker on the product to reveal a unique code, send an SMS to a toll free number, 38353 and then receive a confirmation message.
“The campaign is geared at guarding customers from substandard or fake cables as well as educating them on the risks involved in buying products of questionable origin,” East African Cables, Managing Director George Mwangi said.
It is estimated that the industry loses close to Sh300 million annually due to the illegal trade.