Three State agencies have been put on the spot for their role in the proliferation of cheap counterfeit imports into the country which is inhibiting the expansion of the local manufacturing sector.
Industrialisation secretary Adan Mohamed said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency must up the stake in curbing the influx of substandard goods into Kenya which is denying local manufacturers growth.
“The three agencies must do more to ensure no substandard goods come into Kenya. They must also pull up their socks in ensuring firms which avoid paying taxes on imported goods and in turn taking advantage of their local peers are stopped,” said Mr Mohamed.
Kenya is ranked among the largest markets for counterfeit goods in East Africa, and serves as the distribution hub for the region.
The Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) says the contraband goods are mainly from India and China.
Mr Mohamed spoke when he officially opened the Kenya Manufacturing Summit and Expo on Thursday .
The expo, bringing together over 120 manufacturers, sought to showcase locally manufactured goods.
He said the government would continue boosting the uptake of locally manufactured goods by promoting trade with local suppliers.
Ms Flora Mutahi, the chairperson of KAM, said that for the government to boost competitiveness of local industries it must curb illicit trade, eliminate late payments to suppliers and enhance favourable taxation.
Kebs has implemented new rules on exports to help net fake products coming into the country.
In August 1 last year the standards agency began implementing secure quality marks and stickers, complete with track-and-trace software where importers of goods are required to apply for an import standardisation mark by submitting copies of the certificate of conformity.
Trade in counterfeits has grown to a Sh70 billion annual business, rivalling key foreign exchange earners like tourism, tea and horticulture.
According to the Anti-Counterfeit Agency, the most affected items are drugs, electronics, CDs and software, alcoholic drinks, mobile phones and farm inputs.