KENYA, JULY 21, 2018 — The government has scaled up the war on illicit trade in the country, in an on-going crackdown on fakes and imitations to protect consumers, manufacturers and genuine traders.
The multi-agency team leading the onslaught has identified key areas in which it intends to focus on as it continues with its operations.
They include the agriculture sector, beauty and cosmetics, electronics, building and construction and alcoholic beverages.
Others are food stuffs and bottled water, ICT, motor vehicles, sugar and the oil and gas sector.
The team was appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta on May 10, and commenced operations the day after.
It constitutes the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), the National Police Service, Kenya Railways, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Board, Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Anti Counterfeit Agency, Public Health services, Immigration services and Weights and Measurements Service Kenya.
The President appointed Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambu to lead the operations aimed at eradicating illicit trade, counterfeits, fake business stickers, dumping and entry of fake goods through ports of entry mainly the port of Mombasa.
“We will no longer continue to allow counterfeit goods that come into our country. Very stringent measures will be taken against those who want to continue to perpetrate that agenda of counterfeit and illicit trade,” President Kenyatta said.
In a meeting called by the President at Statehouse on Thursday, the agency said it has and will continue to heighten surveillance at entry and exit border points. It has also embarked on 100 per cent inspection and verification of imports.
The meeting which also involved the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) was chaired by Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya.
The multi-agency team said it is reviewing border posts and working closely with the KRA, Police, immigration and other relevant agencies on the management of borders.
It has identified at least 4,100 kilometers of porous borders. Among challenges in the operations include laxity and integrity issues among staff manning the borders,it said.
This has led to redeployment of staff manning border points to curb familiarity and overall illicit trade.
To further counter this, the team has set strategic road checks that have netted counterfeit products such as sugar, milk powder, ethanol, raw tobacco and maize among other goods.
The value of goods seized so far is to the tune of Ksh76.5 billion.
“One hundred sting operations have been conducted driven by intelligence reports. At least 1.5 million bags of sugar and 200 million worth of roofing materials have been seized, 500 million worth of alcoholic beverages impounded and 250 million worth destroyed. At least two hundred people have been charged in court. Sugar worth 5.3 billion has been impounded for quality checks with KEBS,” the team reported.
There have also been efforts in combating counterfeits from the adulteration of petroleum products with seizure of products and destruction of adulteration dens along Nakuru, Eldoret, Salama, Sultan Hamud and Emali areas.
The private sector has since reported a month on month growth in the bottom-line in the beverage sector by 18 per cent, a market that had been infiltrated by counterfeits.
In his remarks, President Kenyatta reiterated his government’s development agenda that seeks to promote the growth of the local manufacturing sector to 15 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic product under his “Big Four” agenda.
He called for continued support from the private sector in the ongoing fight against counterfeits.
According to a study on the vice of counterfeiting in Kenya, which was done in 2012, it is estimated that Kenyan manufacturers are losing at least 40 per cent of their market share to counterfeiters.
An approximate Ksh30 billion (US$ 42 million) is lost by Kenyan manufacturers annually, while the government loses Ksh6 billion (US$80million) as potential tax revenue.
The President also appealed to industry players not to take advantage of consumers by hiking prices and instead “promote efficiency and remain competitive.”
The private sector has since applauded government’s efforts in combating counterfeit products saying that investor confidence is gradually being restored.
However, the sector led by KEPSA and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers expressed concerns over aggressive raids which it says are causing panic to manufacturers.
“There is need for a system to be adopted to allow systematic flow of activities during raids as well as address the ambiguity and coordination of personnel,” KEPSA CEO Carole Kariuki said, adding that there is also need for proper identification during the raids.
The private sector also wants destruction facilities as well as destruction protocols be put in place with regards to the disposal of seized goods. It has also called for heavy penalties to curb counterfeit trade with perpetrators meeting costs of destruction.
The government has also been urged to strengthen and boost human resource dedicated to the Anti Counterfeit Agency for efficiency in operations, which currently stands at 14 per cent of the desired compliment.
“There is a need to transform the Anti Counterfeit agency into an oversight authority for greater efficiency and to promote coordination against the current fragmented approach,” Kariuki said.
KEPSA has also called for public sensitization on the ongoing efforts, while educating Kenyans on the importance of curbing counterfeit goods as the quality of goods pose a direct danger to users.
It further wants the sources and origin of counterfeits to be tracked to allow government to government interventions to curb the vice.
Products and goods KEPSA wants to be closely monitored include cigarette, alcoholic beverages, cables and pharmaceutical products, which it said the government is losing a lot of revenue while the public remains at risk from the quality of these products.
It also wants standards of fertilizer in Kenya be put in place as well as the importation procedures for industry players. This will allow conformity and timely imports to avoid shortages.
“Edible oils or refined oils need to be relooked into to avoid loss of revenue and substandard imports into the country,” KEPSA said, while calling on the government to also publish the report on sugar testing and inform Kenyans of genuine sugar dealers as well as safe sources of sugar.
Meanwhile, manufactures have decried lack of raw materials which is affecting the supply chain because of a lengthened process from inspection and verification of goods.
They have also raised concerns over delays from KEBS in issuing certification for goods and an increase in storage and demurrage costs from the lengthy processes at verification centers.
Trade CS Peter Munya said the ministry will meet different stakeholders, by sector, to resolve their grievances, assuring the private sector of government support.