Kenya’s fight against counterfeits goes a notch higher with rollout of a National Action Plan

A National Action Plan to step up efforts to reduce levels of illicit trade in Kenya by entrenching a well-coordinated approach by government agencies and partners has been launched.

Dubbed the National Action Plan for Combating Illicit Trade, the strategy seeks to ensure agencies tasked with combating illicit trade have the required capacity and leverage their synergies with other partners and collaborators to realize meaningful impact in the war against illicit trade. Illicit Trade has been one of the leading causes of revenue loss for both the private sector and governments.

“It is imperative that these agencies are well coordinated through sealing the administrative and governance loopholes exploited by perpetrators of illicit trade. This action plan is geared to overcoming these challenges,” said Dr. Chris Kiptoo – PS State Department of Trade.

Whereas there are no statistics on the economic size and impact of counterfeiting or illicit trade in Kenya – estimates from Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) show that the country loses at least Sh200 million annually on counterfeits.  The East African region loses over US$500 million in government tax revenue annually.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Illicit Trade recently estimated the shadow economy to be worth $650 billion with the latest figures on counterfeiting alone predicting an increase to $1.77 trillion. Up-to-date data and more cross-border information sharing is needed to develop a clearer understanding of illicit trade, the contexts which enable it, and how to combat it more effectively.

“The Multi- Agency Anti-Illicit Trade Outreach team has made great strides in the war against illicit trade. Sustainability of these efforts is paramount as a reassurance to investors to continue investing more resources in expanding their businesses and industries,” said the Chairperson of Kenya Association of Manufacturers and ACA Board Chairperson, Ms. Flora Mutahi.

“In terms of our mandate to promote training on Intellectual property through capacity building, we have trained and sensitized 116 officers in criminal justice system including judges, Magistrates and Prosecutors from the Office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions.  We have trained over 1600 officers drawn from our enforcing Agencies like Kenya Police, KEBS, KRA, KEPHIS in all major towns and entry points on issues of intellectual property protection.” Added Ms. Flora Mutahi

“All the identified loopholes, within and beyond our borders that have caused proliferation of illicit products into our market must be sealed. The National Action Plan takes cognizance and emphasizes the inclusion of multiple institutions in the fight against counterfeits. No agency can do it alone. A coordinated approach that leverages our synergies is key to achieving the greatest impact,” said the ACA Executive Director Elema Halake.

The remarks were made during the marking of the World Anti Counterfeit Day at the EPZA grounds in Athi River, where the Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) led the destruction of counterfeit goods worth over Sh27 million and also announced the beginning of the Kuwa Sure Public Awareness Campaign.

While speaking at the event, Chair Parliamentary Trade Committee, Hon. Kanini Kega stressed that the government would no longer lose revenue or watch the lives of Kenyans put at risk as a result of counterfeit products. “The war against Illicit trade must be a public policy priority area. It should be at the level of any transnational organized crime like money-laundering, terrorism, corruption, arms and human trafficking as they are unavoidably associated. There is evidence to this.” Hon Kanini Kega noted.

He added: “We are keen to see our manufacturing sector expand and grow; we’d like all Kenyans to have access to quality and affordable healthcare; we want to see mothers feeding their families on nutritional foods, and raising their children in proper housing facilities – this is the essence of the Big Four Agenda. If we continue tolerating counterfeit products, this dream will remain just but a dream.”

Since its formation, the Multi Agency Anti-Illicit Trade Outreach (MAAITO) team has seized over Sh8.5 billion worth of illicit goods. Of these, illicit goods worth Sh1.5 billion have been destroyed so far. To ensure continuity, the Action Plan proposes a multi-agency framework domiciled at the Executive Office of the President which will provide policy guidance, monitor the implementation of various programs, and report progress to the Presidency.

The Action Plan considers countering illicit trade as a strategic priority in realizing Vision 2030 aspirations as well as the Big Four Agenda that include universal health care, food security, affordable housing and 25 per cent increase in manufacturing by 2030. The essence of the Action Plan, therefore, is to lay foundations to combat illicit trade to facilitate attainment of the country’s development goals. It lays capital on collaboration between the public, private sector and the international community for effective outcomes.

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