15 October 2012

Tanzania: Big No to Fake Goods - From Anywhere

Photo: Kate Holt/IRIN
A patient holds drugs: there are more than two million HIV positive people in Tanzania.

THE Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) contemplates switching off all fake mobile phones in a move to combat counterfeit and sub-standard handsets that have flooded the local market.

Tanzania will be taking the cue from neighbouring Kenya, which has so far switched of more than 1.5 million fake phones and the crusade continues. It is also on record that Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi will follow suit. Like the case in Kenya, mobile phone service providers in Tanzania are likely to drag their feet in the crusade for fear of losing quite a huge chunk of their business.

However, it should be understood that fake goods are a loss factor for customers and the nation. Most fake handsets work erratically and are not durable. Some last for only two weeks. Others do not work at all. And yet some brands are expensive. Importers of fake phones, in fact, impoverish both their customers and the nation.

An accusing finger has been pointed at Chinese mobile phone manufacturers as the main culprits who flood markets in Tanzania and elsewhere in Africa. The accusation has incensed the government of China prompting a remedial move. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce has set up a crack squad of inspectors that has been detailed to keep an eye on the quality of all consumer goods, including mobile phones, which are designed for export.

This is in a quest to flush out substandard, counterfeit and fake items that are destined for export overseas. The upshot is saving foreign consumers from the losses they suffer through purchases of substandard, counterfeit and fake goods. It should also, however, be understood that the unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers collude with greedy business people from Tanzania to flood our local market with substandard imports that are badly fashioned, offensive or dangerous to health.

In China, all factories that will be found guilty of the offence of manufacturing substandard, counterfeit and fake goods will face prosecution. Unfortunately, not all fake goods emanate from Chinese factories. According to a report compiled by the Confederation of Tanzanian Industries (CTI) in April 2008, counterfeit products also originate from India, UAE (Dubai), Indonesia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Ironically, there are African countries in the list. They include Kenya, South Africa, Tanzania, Mozambique and Malawi. It is imperative that the fight against counterfeit goods takes in other offensive items. The economy of this country must be protected.

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