Last year, the government launched a campaign, dubbed ‘Made in Rwanda’, to encourage Rwandans to buy locally-produced goods and services.
The drive seeks to support local industries to grow and become competitive in the long-run but also fight counterfeits.
The issue of counterfeit goods also poses a huge challenge to local industrialists and government. This is mainly because fake products are cheap. This problem is so serious that it could lead to stagnation or even collapse of local industries if is not addressed.
That’s why the move by manufacturers to partner with Rwanda Standards Board to fight counterfeiting should be supported by all stakeholders, including ordinary Rwandans. A lot is at stake here; safeguarding Rwanda from being turned into a dumping ground, as well as supporting local industries and protecting citizens from potentially dangerous products.
Though counterfeiting is a global challenge, it should not be allowed to take root in Rwanda because it endangers lives besides threatening local producers. Only a few weeks ago, the Ministry of Health revealed that about three million substandard bed nets were imported into the country. This procurement exposed millions to malaria since the bed nets were not treated as was believed by the ministry.
To deter such from happening again, the industrialists’ campaign should be supported by stringent laws to make importation or producing of counterfeits very risky business. The standards body’s capacity and labs should also be strengthened to easily identify fake products before they are put on the market.
Manufacturers should also use peer review mechanisms so that those found making substandard products are isolated and punished according to the law. That’s when campaigns such as “Made in Rwanda” will bear the desired fruit. Otherwise, it is everyone’s responsibility to fight counterfeits.