African states meet to tackle illicit cross-border trade

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African states meet to tackle illicit cross-border trade
African states meet to tackle illicit cross-border trade

Africa-Press – Lesotho. Increased trade in counterfeit goods is leading to revenue loss running into billions of shillings across Africa, according to AfrIPI.

The company that deals with protection of Intellectual Properties Rights (IPR) in Africa said demand for counterfeit goods is high and is likely to adversely affect consumers in the near future.

In Kenya, the sectors where the crime is most prevalent are pharmaceutical, alcohol, cosmetics, motor vehicle spare parts, and other Fast Moving Commodity Goods (FMCG) such as soap, toothpaste, hair oil and juices.

According to the 2020 Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) intellectual property report, Kenya loses close to Sh800 billion annually to illicit trade.

AfrIPI held a stakeholder meeting on Tuesday in Nairobi discussing ways of managing illicit trade.

Intellectual Property Rights include trademarks, patents, utility models, industrial designs, copyrights, plant breeders’ rights and layout designs of integrated circuits.

The delegation, which comprised of IPR stakeholders such as African Regional Intellectual Property Organization (ARIPO) Member State Representatives, acknowledged the need for collaboration across Africa.

Panellists noted that sale of counterfeit goods had become a transnational issue hence the need for cross-border policies to ensure the culprits are apprehended.

Anti-Counterfeit Authority Executive Director Robi Njoroge said they are collaboration with the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in the road sector t deal with counterfeits.

“Some of the fatalities from road accidents are the result of counterfeit spare parts and this is why we are working with the NTSA to study the effects of this,” said Mbugua.

The EU Deputy Ambassador to Kenya Ondrej Simek said the counterfeiting has evolved and customers can easily unknowingly fall prey.

“Previously counterfeiting was only affecting high-end luxury goods but now it has moved even to everyday household goods which affects the health of consumers,” said Simek.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNDOC), in 2023, warned that counterfeit drugs are to be blamed for the deaths of nearly 500,000 people annually in Africa.

Aida Galindo, Project Leader, AfrIPI, said that the organisation is working with law enforcement agencies in Kenya and the other 22 AfrIPI member states.

She said this would boost cross-border enforcement due to the transnational nature of the crime.

“This high-level training program is vital in safeguarding IPRs and fostering a vibrant innovation ecosystem across Africa by equipping enforcement officials with the necessary skills and promoting regional cooperation,” said Galindo.

IP rights, as intangible assets, are key to the competitiveness of businesses in the global economy.

Apart from helping companies protect their inventions from competitors, they are also an essential source of cash flow through licensing deals or IP sales.

In addition IP Sales are a significant pull factor for attracting investors.

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