• Monday, June 24, 2024
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SON, JETRO, others renew fight against counterfeiting

Product counterfeiting in Nigeria is receiving more attention, as the Federal Government, through the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), in collaboration with the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO), are leading other stakeholders in a renewed fight against the menace.    
Others involved in the push to reduce the activities of product counterfeiters, denying government much-needed revenue and hurting genuine manufacturers, include Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and Nigerian Copyright Commission, among others.
To renew the fight, JETRO, in collaboration with SON and with the support of the Embassy of Japan in Nigeria, organised the “Nigeria-Japan Anti-Counterfeiting Seminar.”
At the opening of the seminar in Lagos on Wednesday, Shigeyo Nishizawa, trade commissioner/managing director of JETRO, said the seminar was aimed at promoting mutual understanding on intellectual property protection and strengthen anti-counterfeiting between Nigeria and Japan.
He said seven Japanese companies operating in Nigeria and other countries were on hand to showcase and differentiate their original products from the fake ones so as to create awareness to the Federal Government’s standard enforcement agencies and the general public.
Some of the Japanese companies that made presentations include Brother Int’l  (Gulf FZE), maker of consumable parts of laser printers, Multi-Function Centres (MFCs), fax machines and label printers; Canon Europe Limited in the EMEA region, manufacturer of inkjet printers and professional printers for business and home users.
Others include Japan Tobacco International (JTI), producers of tobacco/cigarette; NGK Spark Plug Middle East FZE, makers of genuine engine spark plugs; air-condition giant Panasonic Marketing Services Nigeria Limited.
Also on hand to help Nigerian consumers spot the original products from the fake were Sharp Middle East FZE, maker of consumable/spare parts for digital Multifunction Peripheral (MFPs)/Printers; TOSHIBA Gulf FZE, specialising inhard disk drives, USB flash drive, SD card, printer, home appliances, etc.
According to Nishizawa, the number of Japanese companies in Nigeria has continued to increase, and with a total of 40 Japanese firms currently operating in the country, there is need to educate and enlighten consumers on how to identify genuine products from counterfeits. 
Osita Abaloma, director-general of SON, expressed the agency’s commitment to promoting quality in all its ramifications through diligent implementation of policies and initiatives on standardisation and quality assurance.
“The need to protect genuine investors, manufacturers, importers and dealers in quality products in Nigeria from the damaging effects of purveyors of substandard and life endangering products cannot be over-emphasised,” Abaloma said.
Abaloma, who was represented by Bede Obayi, SON director, inspectorate and compliance, said counterfeiting was one of the known sources of substandard products across the world.
Describing counterfeiting as illicit trade, he said it had been a major source of worry to governments, businesses and regulatory institutions in developed and developing economies.
The SON boss, however, said Nigeria’s case, given her population and market in the West African region and the continent, presents a worrying scenario for the negative effects of counterfeiting and the illicit trade associated with it.
He said apart from depriving industry of legitimate sales and eroding long-term sustainability of business, other effects of counterfeiting include promotion of unemployment, drain on national income through tax evasion and threat to national security, as the proceeds are not easily traceable.
He also added that because counterfeited products usually do not meet quality and safety requirements, they are, therefore, life endangering. Besides, purveyors of such products, he added, do not give value for money, as the quality is usually far below those of the genuine products and brands.
Yahaya Bukar, SON head of ports and borders, made a 10-minute presentation on anti-counterfeiting war, and Masao Goto of JETRO Dubai also did another presentation on Intellectual Property protection.
Furthermore, Abaloma stated that although, government has over the years set up institutions and provided regulatory frameworks to tackle the menace of counterfeiting, the challenge of combating the menace lies in improved collaboration among stakeholders and provision of classified information to SON and other regulatory agencies by brand owners.
Also, increased consumer complaints, improved capacity building and advocacy, he said, will help. Coordinated efforts at brand protection by manufacturers, importers and brand owners also hold the key.
Describing the seminar as “A step in the right direction,” Abaloma said SON would on its part continue to provide all necessary supports within its mandate to genuine businesses in Nigeria and make life difficult for counterfeiters and purveyors of substandard products.
According to him, SOM has already put in place necessary quality frameworks for original brand owners, franchise holders, importers and manufacturers of genuine products in Nigeria such as the Mandatory Conformity Assessment Programme (MANCAP) for locally made products.
He listed others as Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) and Product Registration Scheme for Imported Products.