Gov’t keen on eliminating infringements on intellectual property, illicit trade

Business & Finance Counties Editor's Pick Nairobi

Counterfeiting and other forms of illicit trade are a global phenomenon that continue to thrive despite numerous legislative and regulatory frameworks employed by countries around the world to curb the practices.

The increase in intellectual property right infringements and illicit trade in general is viewed to be as a result of weak legislative and institutional frameworks as well as lack of collaborative networks to counter the vices.

This has been brought to light during the global conference by Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) on addressing the menace of counterfeit and illicit trade.

Speaking at the conference at Bomas of Kenya, Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry (MITI) Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria stated that the threat of counterfeiting is not just an economic matter but it goes further to the health and safety of consumers through the use of unsafe counterfeit products.

“As a government, we have prioritised the fight against counterfeiting and any other form of illicit trade since it not only affects our economy but also poses a threat to citizens who are the consumers,” reiterated Kuria.

Studies from the World Economic Forum estimates that illicit trade presently deprives the global economy an equivalent of 2.2 trillion US dollars annually and this accounts for 3% of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

In 2019, the value of illicit trade in Kenya stood at Sh800billion which translates to 13% of her GDP.

Citing the event’s theme: ‘Addressing the IPR infringement and related forms of illicit trade enforcement to spur a digital economy’, PS state department for Industry, Dr. Juma Mukhwana acknowledged that innovation has always been a catalyst for the economic growth of a country and is critical to spurring the manufacturing agenda of any nation.

He said despite the legislative measures at hand, decisive actions will be taken to face the threat of counterfeit and illicit trade.

“This symposium presents a timely platform to deliberate turn around approaches to tackle IP rights infringement at the national, regional and global levels. We also aim to close existing and threatening gaps which are exploited by criminals,” stated Mukhwana.

As Kenya hosts the first international conference on IP protection and enforcement, Executive Director ACA Robi Mbugua said that the three-day conference aims to unite policymakers, judicial officers, enforcers, leading academic scientists and researchers among others to exchange and share their experiences and recent innovations and challenges adapted in the IP rights.

“The country’s preparedness in addressing the menace of IP theft is bolstered by the constitution that prescribes respect and protection of IP in Kenya,” reiterated Dr Mbugua.

ACA together with her partners including Attorney General Alliance (AGA) and Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa (ACN) among others are on the forefront to combat counterfeiting in Kenya and Africa at large.

By Enrica Amisi and Lucy Gitei


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