Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA) has warned the public against counterfeit toothpaste and drugs on the market. “We have been dealing with counterfeits Colgate from China, while the producers of the genuine Colgate is in South Africa. When you look at them closely, you identify those counterfeits in the dentifrice envelope,” said Richard Tusabe, the deputy commissioner of RRA in charge of customs. This was during a Town Hall meeting dubbed “Kubaza Bitera Kumenya,” aired live on both the public radio and TV yesterday. During the show that aimed at creating awareness on counterfeits and their impacts on the economy, Tusabe said other affected products include drugs and soaps. “We have discovered counterfeit soaps from Tanzania with renowned international brands,” he said, warning traders against buying them to avoid incurring losses. John Patrick Mwesigye, an official from the Ministry of Health, said counterfeit is a global issue, especially for expensive products, because dealers of fake ones fetch a lot of money from it. The case for Rwanda Mwesigye said Rwanda has adopted measures to curb counterfeit while putting in place rules and regulations to follow up drugs trading besides regular control at the customs and on the market. He said drug suppliers in the country include 50 importers and 170 retailing pharmacies. Immacule Mukankubito, the in-charge of standards in the Rwanda Biomedical Centre’s Department of Medical Production and Procurement, said counterfeit drugs are a threat to economy because it leads to drug resistance which forces change in medicine protocols, thus incurring more expenses on the nation. Telephone and electronics Mobile handsets were reportedly victim of counterfeits in the region and so are electronics. Recently, Kenya banned import of fake mobile phones and disconnected those in use from national networks. Rwanda is not safe either, but there is no plan to switch them off. At least, not yet. “We can’t decide to destroy the telephones already in use by millions of Rwandans. We are working closely with the Rwanda Utility Regulatory Authority to ensure that no more counterfeit phones are getting in,” said Tusabe. Usually, RBS and RRA learn about counterfeits after the owner of the genuine goods with the brand name and the trade mark has complained. Gerard Mukubu, the deputy chief executive of Private Sector Federation, said most of the time, traders purchase products oblivious of whether they are counterfeits. He called for more sensitisation of traders about counterfeits, including the laws and regulations in place. During the show, it emerged that in East African Community, 70 per cent of products on the market are counterfeits. But there are no local figures about the problem. The audience expressed worry about medical and food supplement being traded in vehicle boots. Philip Nzaire, the in-charge of quality insurance at RBS, said such practices are illegal.