Tuesday 9 September 2008

Asiimwe Paul

Campaign against counterfeits in the works in Kenya

John Kariuki of the East African newspaper reports this week that the Kenya Association of Manufacturers has intensified its efforts to lobby parliament to table the Anti Counterfeit Bill this year.

Some key aspects of the bill include a proposal to have a tribunal that will handle petitions by small manufacturers who cannot afford to litigate in the Industrial court against importers and vendors of counterfeits. Secondly, the bill proposes the establishment of a board which will act as a policing body, with representatives from industry, government ministries and private sector corporations.

The Kenya Association of manufacturers has a strategy of widening publicity on the ills of counterfeits through first of all through its members. Leading companies such as Toyota Kenya have already budgeted for anti counterfeiting activities to the tune of over US$60,000, DT Dobbie (franchisees of Mercedes Benz) with a budget of over US$20,000 and others such as GlaxoSmithkline about to join the joint campaign.

According to Mr. William Mwatu, Director Medical & Regulatory Affairs at GSK "the emphasis of the campaigns is educating the people on how to distinguish between genuine and counterfeit products, but more importantly, dispelling the myth that fake products are cheaper". In the same breath, Mr Dickson Paroji of the Kenya Association of Manufacturers adds that The campaigns also aim at showing that fakes might be cheaper but the cost to the user is much more in the long run because of poor performance and the health risks involved".

These efforts are commendable and manufacturers associations as well as other private sector associations and consumer groups in East Africa and the EA Community would be well advised to take notice. Initiatives to fight brand dilution and counterfeiting can be successful once undertaken by vigilant companies but joint efforts will yield even better results.

Asiimwe Paul

Asiimwe Paul

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