Kenya intensifies fight against counterfeit goods

Kenya’s intensified efforts at curbing illicit trade in the country has so far yielded positive results. However, counterfeit products still find their way into the country through border towns which Kenya says are hotspots for illicit trade.

“We have a very long stretch of borders between us and our neighbours. A huge section is porous and this is where some of these products are being sneaked across the countries,” said Elema Halake, Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) Executive Director.

ACA chairperson Flora Mutahi added that though much has been done to curb the illegal business, counterfeit goods are still finding their way into the country. “It is a problem affecting not only Kenya but the region at large. We must work closely to end this business,” she said.

A survey by the anti-counterfeit agency shows that 70 percent of Kenyans have purchased fake goods and some have done so knowingly due to the cheapness of the products. According to ACA, 18.3 percent are unaware of the risks, hence go ahead to purchase such products while other reasons account for the remaining 14.9 percent.

Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG), electronics, pharmaceutical products and alcoholic beverages are the most counterfeited goods while stationeries are least fabricated. At a rate of 51.8 percent, mobile phones top the rank as the most counterfeited goods, followed by alcohol and beverages at 30.8 percent. Digital Video Discs/Compact Discs bottled drinking water and pharmaceuticals add up to make the top five most counterfeited products.

Detergents, food products, electrical gadgets, perfumes and cosmetics, cigarettes and computers (both software and hardware) are not exempt from being counterfeited.

In 2018, the ACA and the state house-sanctioned multi-sectoral agency nabbed goods estimated at more than Ksh10 billion (about $10 million). In the last six months alone, Ksh 8.5 billion ($84.78 million) worth of counterfeit goods have been seized in the country.

The influx of fake products and Kenyans’ willingness to purchase these goods have hindered the growth of the local manufacturing industry. Kenya Association of Manufacturers estimates that 40 percent of the local market share is lost to counterfeiters with the government losing more than Sh200 billion ($1.99 billion) in potential revenue annually.

According to Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), the Kenyan border towns of Isebania, Migori, Namanga, Kisii and Kajiado are hotspots for counterfeit goods. Malaba, Busia, West Pokot, Kapenguria, Kitale and Kitui towns which are easily accessible from the Kenyan-Ugandan border have also been marked as hot spots. Other towns are Mandera, Isiolo, Moyale, Lokichokio, Wajir, Garissa, Lamu, Liboi and Nyeri, which further points to Ethiopia and Somalia as possible sources of counterfeits. However, the Port of Mombasa remains a key entry point for the counterfeit goods.