Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) and the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) have launched a sensitization program targeting counties to combat counterfeiting and other forms of illicit trade in the country.
The program is expected to help curb the heightened level of illicit trade in the country costing the country billions of shillings.
Speaking during the event, KAM Chief Executive, Ms Phyllis Wakiaga, the vice has grown to great proportions in recent years, threatening our economy and the realization of a number of the country’s development goals, including the Big 4 Agenda.
“KAM will continue to work closely with both National and County Governments in order to address the menace of illicit trade which threatens the health and safety of all citizens, undermines national and regional security, destabilises economies, increases the cost of public health, sabotages tourism, stunts innovation, and offers a haven to organised crime and trafficking,” said Ms Wakiaga.
In September this year, ACA launched a nationwide series of engagement with the County Security Committees in a bid to fight trade in counterfeits and illicit trade across the country.
According to the International Trademark Association figures for 2017; Counterfeit trade was valued at between $ 923 billion and $ 1.13 trillion in 2013 and was estimated to reach $ 1.90-2.81T by 2022.
In the EAC region, the vice is estimated by The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) at $ 500 million in lost taxes in 2008. Kenya Association of Manufacturers estimates manufacturers net loss from counterfeit products amount to approximately $368 million (Sh37.9 billion).
Collaboration among all enforcement agencies
According to the County Commissioner for Busia, Mr Jacob Narengo, the fight against illicit trade calls for collaboration among all enforcement agencies and committed to sustaining the fight against illicit trade within Busia county.
Through increased partnership under the Multi-Agency enforcement team, ACA has so far seized goods with Ksh8.5 billion ($82.28 million) in the last one and a half years. Out of these we have destroyed goods worth approximately Ksh3 billion ($29.04 million).
“No single entity can effectively enforce anti-counterfeiting measures within and across national boundaries. The fight against illicit trade is a collaborative effort amongst all stakeholders. Collaboration will increase our gains in this fight as we work towards growing our economies and having a safe, healthy population. Busia County has dedicated Thursdays for operations against various forms of illicit trade. We shall be conducting random, impromptu checks in business premises to check for counterfeits in the county,” noted Mr Narengo.
ACA Research, Awareness, Policy and Quality Assurance Deputy Director, Dr John Akoten reiterated the importance of sustaining the fight against illicit trade.
“We are on the right track on this issue as a country. It is incumbent upon us as citizens, stakeholders and partners in our nation’s development to meet this challenge head-on, sure-footed with conviction and clarity. If left alone to fester, illicit trade is a threat to our nationhood,” said Dr Akoten.
The forum, held in Busia, is the first of a series of engagements planned to sensitize law enforcement agencies on denormalising illicit trade.