The Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa in conjunction with Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (ODPP), Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Interpol, Judicial Training Institute (JTI), Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), National Drug Authority (NDA), Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries and Fisheries, Feed the Future/Inclusive Agriculture Markets launched the “Fight Against Fakes” Campaign and the anti-counterfeit whistleblowing platform called The Fakes desk in Mbale City.
The Fight Against Fake campaign was activated through a Song Competition with sub-theme “FAKE is FAKE”. The Champion against Fakes intervention found it prudent to use Music and the arts as agents of behavioral change.
This sub-event was intended to ensure that farmers, brand owners, consumers, agro-input traders as well as public and private sector thought Leaders are not only systematically rallied against fakes but also galvanized around Intellectual Property Rights protection and promotion.
According to the Feed the Future/Inclusive Agriculture Markets Activity – ACN Africa 2022 study that was carried out in the Elgon sub region of Uganda, 66% of the Respondents “agree that counterfeits will always be among us” pointing to normalcy and a sense of public resignation. In fact, in all cases where suspected counterfeiters are raided, the common argument that the suspects and their sympathizers present is that “I am trying to fend for my family”; meaning that if crime serves a higher family interest, then it is justifiable. The artists’ & media campaign response is “what is criminal is criminal and cannot be righted by the nobility of a cause; -Fake is Fake!
Anti-Counterfeit Network Africa not only did they launch the “Fight Against Fakes” campaign but they also launched Fakes Desk that will be used by the people in the Elgon region to report counterfeits and counterfeiters. Fakes Desk is a dual-purpose platform that is designed to bring the latest news and information about the fight against fakes in the region and on the other hand facilitates the reporting of counterfeit incidences through a physical desk for walk-ins, WhatsApp, and telephone. This will help improve the ease, quality, and effectiveness of investigation and eventual prosecution of counterfeit cases.
Speaking at the function, Collins Apuoyo, the Chief of Party Feed The Future Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets Activity, lauded the winners, the launch of the “Fight Against Fakes” and Fakes Desk saying that it’s a novel idea. “This is a good idea. People can report counterfeits online and they get redressed. This idea of the fake desk will change the way counterfeits are,” said Mr Apuoyo.
Apuoyo added that one of the objectives of the Feed the Future Uganda Inclusive Agricultural Markets Activity is to increase productivity in Uganda yet one of the challenges they have encountered is farmers using agricultural products that are counterfeited. “We are interested in driving the change that would lead to fewer counterfeits on the market in Uganda. What we have seen is one of the strategies we are using to try to make people understand the message of fake is fake,” he said.
Mr Fred Muwema, ACN Africa’s Chairman, said that the launch of the fake desk is indicative of ACN’s belief in action rather than words. “We don’t just talk but work and we do research,” said Muwema who is also ACN’s legal Director. He said that there’s a need for several stakeholders to work together to combat counterfeits. “We can’t leave the fight against counterfeits to farmers in Bulambuli,” he said alluding to one of the districts that form the Elgon region.
“We started with a baseline study here in the Elgon and the study revealed a lot of ignorance about counterfeits. We are all ignorant because the study showed no single case was reported to the police. No case went to the ODDP’s office. No case went to the Court.” He added
In the end, Alex Wandeka, marched away with Shs 3 million having got the better of four other competitors in the FAKE is FAKE singing competition that targeted upcoming artists in and around Elgon region. “When I joined the competitions I didn’t expect to win but I’m happy I’ve won. I want to be an apostle in this fight against counterfeits in Agro-products,” Wandeka said.
With Elgon Sub region being the pioneer of the campaign, we are pleased to inform Ugandans that we shall be rolling out in most parts of Uganda, we shall be in the Western Region, West Nile, Southern Region and central Region. Ugandans will all benefit from this.
The Fake is fake campaign is important to all Ugandans because they get to know the dangers of using counterfeit products. We started with the farmers because we all consume food and side effects always happen after using the fake products. And we are all calling upon people that if they encounter anyone selling counterfeit agriculture products that can report them to our Fakes Desk.