11 February 2013

Kenya: Fight Against Counterfeit Trade Rages On

Nairobi — The Kenyan Government has moved to tame escalating cases of counterfeit electricity cables estimated to cost the economy close to $1 billion in lost revenue annually.

The thriving trade in counterfeit electricity cables has also come with devastating losses of life and property especially in cases where the fake cables have exploded in flames.

Henceforth, contractors dealing in cable installation must attain certification from the Ministry of Industrialization. This will mainly affect cable installation in big establishments affecting many people. At local level, such contractors will need certification from the local authorities after inspection of the cabling material.

An estimated 275 people died last year in accidents associated with counterfeit cables with statistics indicating that many more such cases went unreported.

The success of the certification directive will however depend on the commitment of the authorities to best practices especially in a country where due process is rare and crooked government officials would rather cut deals with business people.

"As a country, we are losing so much in terms of human lives, destruction of property and revenue to the exchequer. With this in mind, the government has resolved to deal with the counterfeit cable menace once and for all," Industrialization Permanent Secretary Eng. Cyrus Njiru said in Nairobi last week.

Trade in counterfeits is currently a serious headache for the Kenyan economy with literally everything on the market having a corresponding counterfeit on the shelves. Previous efforts to tame the challenge have witnessed little success.

Most affected are the consumer electronics dealers, pharmaceutical supplies, ornaments, electricity cables, mobile phones among others. Certified contractors will be expected to deal with genuine cable with the risk of prosecution and revocation of practicing licenses if they are found with fake cables.

In minimizing the damage on ordinary people, the government in partnership with industry players has also availed a toll free number where the public can call and confirm if the cables they are using are genuine. Industry players claim to be losing over $3.5 million to counterfeits annually. The trade has been on the increase in the recent years.

The Kenyan public is also encouraged to replace cables once confirmed to be counterfeit in order to forestall and fatalities.

In the fight are Safaricom, Kenya Power Lighting Company, Energy Regulation Commission and the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

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