17 May 2014

Kenya: KEBs Goes Digital to Reduce Counterfeits

The Kenya Bureau of Standards has said it has invested in mobile technology to help wipe out contraband products from the market.

The standardisation body said it will take advantage of the high penetration of mobile phones in the country to roll out the project next month.

Product certification manager, Erick Ochieng' said the technology will include a free application software and a free short text messages service which consumers will use to scan goods before purchase.

"There is a high number of unscrupulous individuals who are using names of established brands to make fake ones. We will issue a Sms number and a quick response (qr) code scanner for smartphones which will be able to detect the validity of consumer products from our database," he said during a retail outlets workshop, held in Nairobi yesterday.

He said there are 5,404 certified large manufacturers and only 1,878 certified small and medium enterprise manufacturers. He said most sme manufacturers do not meet the certification threshold hence the low number of permits. "We have advised retailers to demand a KEBS certification of quality and a signed letter before stocking goods in shops," he said.

According to KEBS managing director, Charles Ongawe, the move comes in the wake of illicit alcohol that claimed lives of over 80 people across Murang'a, Kiambu, Embu, Nairobi, and Makueni counties. He said criminals are operating illegal distillers in homes where they apply the KEBS standardization marks to cheat unsuspecting consumers.

"We have implemented the product certification schemes such as standardization mark, import standardization mark, and diamond mark of quality in order to ensure the health of Kenyans during the exchange of goods and services," he said.

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