EAST AFRICA – The Anti-Counterfeit Authority of Kenya (ACA) and Uganda’s Anti-Counterfeit Network (ACN Africa) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to work together to combat counterfeits in the East African area.
The agreement, which was signed in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, seeks to improve strategic cooperation on issues relevant to the eradication of counterfeit goods in East Africa.
According to estimates from the World Economic Forum, illegal trade currently costs the world economy U.S$2.2 trillion yearly or over 3% of global gross domestic product (GDP).
ACA conducted a National Baseline Survey between October 2019 and February 2020 to determine the extent of counterfeit and other forms of illicit trade in the country.
The survey covered several forms of illicit trade including counterfeiting, piracy, substandard goods, uncustomed goods, restricted goods, and unexercised goods.
A 2018 ACA survey found that the value of the counterfeit trade was close to Kenyan Sh100 billion (U.S$ 736.9 million) in revenue in 2018, a figure economists suggest could be higher and rising each year.
ACA was created as a State Corporation under the Anti-Counterfeit Act 2008 with the purpose of educating and informing the public about counterfeiting.
Additionally, it must develop and promote training programs to prevent counterfeiting, as well as coordinate with other national, regional, and international organizations that are active in the fight against counterfeiting.
The ACN reported that Uganda loses up to Ugandan Sh6 trillion (U.S$ 1.6 billion) annually to counterfeits and substandard products.
“The MoU represents a statement of mutual intentions between our two institutions- focusing on developing and strengthening a robust Intellectual Property (IP) system in the region,” said Dr. Robi Mbugua Njoroge, ACA Executive Director.
Dr. Mbugua added that the ACA is mandated by Kenyan law to partner with national and international institutions on matters dealing with counterfeiting.
“We look forward to being strategic partners and leading advocates on legislative and regulatory issues addressing Intellectual Property (IP) infringement not in Kenya but in the region,” he noted.
The collaboration between the two countries was applauded by Kawesa Richard, Head of Strategy for ACN Africa, who stated that “combatting counterfeits in the region requires collaborative leadership and action.”
Kawesa highlighted that “collaborative leadership would mean that individual ambitions of every mandate-holder or stakeholder in the IP value chain recognizes common risks, limitations, and implications and seeks to work together to mitigate collective threats, increase opportunities and share best practices.”
Emphasizing the importance of partnership across the region, Fred Muwema, the Director Legal at ACN Africa said: “ACA and ACN Africa deeply appreciate the magnitude of the counterfeit challenge at hand and have therefore agreed to cooperate in the areas of research, legal action, technology and communication for mindset change.”
ACN Africa strives to close the gap between people who can be helped and others who are affected by illegal trade, parallel markets, and other forms of trade that are not legal.
The organization does this by advocating for the delivery of effective initiatives to reduce the prevalence of counterfeit practices in Africa through research, legal action, technology, and communication for mindset change.