BrandMark, an American firm has launched an application to eliminate fake products in Kenya. The new technology has the capacity to scan goods and help consumers differentiate between the counterfeit and original goods before buying.

Launched this year, the company specializes in creating special stickers for manufacturers to enable them to put a stop to counterfeit. The app will help local manufacturers that have been battling with counterfeit with limited success for decades.

Peter Massawa, the country’s brand representative, says the technology will give customers an advantage over making informed choices about goods before buying them for consumption. He said manufacturers would also benefit from the new development by enabling them to trace goods from the manufacturers’ point to purchasing.

According to him, through the back end, the same information will be copied and relayed to manufacturers, anti-counterfeit agency and BrandMark system. The service also provides geolocation of the scanned products, which shows the location of the shop where goods have been scanned. The technology will help the anti-counterfeiting agency to respond swiftly whenever fake products are noticed.

Companies will have to make orders from BrandMark, which will then activate them once it has been authenticated and confirmed by the manufacturers who will stick on the targeted products. “The most important thing about this service is that customers are not charged to download the application. The scanning is free. We hope governments in Africa will work tirelessly on reduce prices for purchasing smartphones and make them accessible to many to enable usage of the app,” says Massawa.

Some local companies like pharmaceuticals, paints, alcohol, beverages, juice manufacturing companies, vehicle spare parts companies such as Toyota, Nissan, Subaru among others have subscribed to the service with the aim of protecting their products.

The World Health Organisation estimates that about 100,000 people die in Africa every year because of fake pharmaceuticals. Counterfeiting also affects industrial markets, with counterfeit bearings, drives, pumps, machine parts, and values, besides others, being used in manufacturing and production. 

“This creates safety risks for those operating machineries or using vehicles fitted with counterfeit parts because they are not manufactured to the same quality standards as the original, “ says Paul Ramara, partner at law firm Spoor and Fisher.

Most counterfeit goods in Africa reported to have come from the East, particularly China, while a small percentage comes from other countries. The menace has been a hindrance to increasing the collection of state revenues. 

Studies have shown in the past that counterfeiting is more rampant in Africa than in other markets where fewer products are faked. Some companies have attempted to stop this issue in the past, but systems created by these companies have not yielded much result. This is because some of those systems allowed buyers to perform authentication once the goods have been purchased and obtained from the market rather than before the purchase.

The proliferation of fake products in Africa is a public crisis that can no longer be ignored. If the new development is successful, Massawa says it will save jobs besides restoring others that have been lost in the past where companies left for other countries over the counterfeiting menace.

By Ahmed Iyanda.

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