Agencies urged to curb smuggling of contraband goods
Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA) have been urged to tame the influx of cheap counterfeit goods penetrating the country.
Trade, Industry and Enterprise Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Lawrence Karanja said importation of fake goods inhibits expansion of the local manufacturing sector.
He said for the government to boost competitiveness of local industries, there is need for the two agencies to work together in ensuring the country is free of pirated goods.
Karanja said Kebs should stop closing down home-grown manufacturers on grounds that they were producing substandard goods, but instead advise entrepreneurs on areas to improve quality and safety of their products.
Speaking during a capacity building workshop for County Industrial Development Officers at the Kenya Industrial Training Institute in Nakuru recently, Karanja said ACA should move from confiscating substandard goods and redirect resources in promoting public awareness on the same.
Protecting local industries and combating proliferation of counterfeit goods will expand the country’s annual manufacturing value from Sh650 billion to over Sh1 trillion. Currently, the sector loses over Sh800 billion annually from illicit trade, he said.
“Effective checks on illegitimate trade have the potential of expanding the manufacturing sector’s output from 10 per cent to 15 per cent within a few years. The counterfeit value in 2013 was Sh1.3 trillion, and it is expected to rise to Sh28 trillion by 2022,” said Karanja.
He challenged Kenya Industrial Estates to effectively discharge its mandate of linking local inventors to the Kenya Industrial Property Institute to have their business ideas and models patented, warning local entrepreneurs against using secrecy as a way of protecting innovations.
“This Buy Kenya - Build Kenya Strategy, provides not only a road map but also a suitable framework to stimulate the economy by strongly encouraging public and private sector expenditure that supports goods and services produced locally,” he stated.
Karanja said his the ministry had gazetted 334 products the government will source locally as a way of assuring local industries of a reliable market for their products.
A number of local innovators and manufacturers have closed shop after constant confiscation of their goods and closure of their premises by Kebs and ACA.
This, the CAS observed, sometimes opens up gaps for counterfeit goods to flood the local market.
Kenya is ranked among the largest markets for counterfeit goods in East Africa, and serves as the distribution hub for the region.
According to ACA, the most affected items are drugs, electronics, alcoholic drinks, mobile phones and farm inputs.