Agency raises the alarm over fake electronics hitting 80 per cent

ACA officials inspect items: Fakes merchants now use formal supply routes. PHOTO | FILE
ACA officials inspect items: Fakes merchants now use formal supply routes. PHOTO | FILE 

Eighty per cent of electronics sold in the country are counterfeit while 34 per cent of medicines stocked in pharmacies are fake.

This is as per a new survey by the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) on the most counterfeited goods in the country.

The fakes expose Kenyans to health risks besides seeing the country lose more than Sh70 billion annually, partly in unpaid taxes.

Manufacturers incur losses of Sh50 billion annually in sales revenue, the study found.

Cosmetics are the third most counterfeited goods at 30 per cent, followed by batteries at 28.9 per cent.

The rest are drinks (27.7 per cent), food (21.5 per cent), cigarettes (13.3 per cent), clothing (11.7 per cent), seeds (9.4 per cent), shoe polish (7.8 per cent), stationery (2.7 per cent), fat (1.2 per cent) and soap (0.4 per cent).

The survey shows that of the 34 per cent counterfeited medicines, half of these were classified as the most dangerous counterfeited commodities.

ACA has established the counterfeiting cartels use normal supply chains delivering with ease the fakes to formal retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies which are popular with Kenyans.

Majority of Kenyans, according to the survey, cannot distinguish between the genuine brands and counterfeits regardless of education levels or age.

“Suppliers of these fake commodities use the normal supply chain to reach their consumers. While the reinforcement agencies try their level best to fight this vice, the biggest challenge remains to be inadequate tools of detection,” said the Acting deputy director of research and awareness at ACA, Agnes Karingu.

She spoke when the State agency led Kenyans in marking the annual World Anti-Counterfeiting Day (WACD).

Mrs Karingu said counterfeit goods occupy 40 per cent of the market share in Kenya, and have affected the health of 56 per cent of their consumers.

“Technological advancement, the law of greed and increased international trade are some of the greatest drivers of counterfeits and they make it hard to detect the existence of these commodities in the market,” she said.

Ms Karingu also admitted that the level of willingness by law enforcement agencies to fight counterfeits is very low, adding that some of the agencies had been infiltrated by corrupt officers.

In turn, she said, the rise in the business of counterfeiting had in turn led to ruined international relations, frustration of policies and the loss of trust in genuine and protected brands.

The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (Kipi) acting managing director Sylvance Sange warned that no company or industry in Kenya was immune to theft of intellectual property and imitation of brands.

“While companies invest in research and development of new products and also in their marketing, the counterfeiters take advantage and introduce their own counterfeited commodities and since they know their commodities are illegal, they evade taxes,” Mr Sange said.

“It is important first of all to register your commodity with Kipi and report cases of infringement to ACA,” he added. On Monday, ACA destroyed commodities worth Sh58 million at EPZ in Athi River.