Reflex Eco Group – Uganda News

by Othman Semakula (Ugandan journalist of Daily Monitor)

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A scan through Daniel Kalanja’s house tells of how the Chinese influence has over the years grown in Uganda; taking over living rooms, bedrooms, kitchens among others.

His office is a mirror image that further cements the Chinese conquest of Africa in terms of trade and influence.

However, notwithstanding the increasing trade volumes, consumers have increasingly become incensed with Chinese products claiming forgery and a lack of durability.

A survey conducted by global audit firm PwC recently revealed that consumers buy counterfeits deliberately because they tend to be cheaper compared to genuine ones.

Their cheap quotations in a way entice consumers’ purchasing decisions.

According to data, about 50 per cent of goods that enter Uganda are either fake or substandard; however, there are indications that importers demand for such goods because they are cheap.

Experience shows that though these goods are purchased cheaply, they tend to become expensive in the long run because they breakdown easily and soon require repair or replacement.

A counterfeit electric power extension bought at $6 [Shs15,000] has the potential to cause a loss worth millions. It can cause a burnout of all appliances connected to it.

It is estimated that counterfeits kill at least 100,000 people annually, mostly in low developing economies.

Records of buildings collapsing have been registered due to fake or substandard cement on the market.


Chinese manufactured phones continue to hit the market with names closer to those of genuine brands like Nokla instead of Nokia. These phones look fancier, have double line provisions and come cheaply compared to the genuine Nokia.


Mr Kenneth Oyolla, the general manager for Nokia’s business operations in the East and Southern Africa region, recently said about 6 per cent of the value of large phone brands worldwide are counterfeited.

He said Nokia loses about 10 per cent of the value in counterfeits.

“The situation in Uganda is a bit worrying, and the rate seems to be high. Counterfeiting is threatening our integrity and good name. The Nokia brand is associated with quality and reliability, but we usually get complaints from consumers who are cheated by phone users,” he said.

A duplicated designer Gucci bag, which is spelt Guci in the counterfeit world for example, goes for $18 [Shs45,000] in Uganda, while a genuine one goes for between $100 and $900 depending on the location of the shop one is buying from.

The beauty with spending this kind of money on a genuine bag is that one if handled well can carry it for more than 10 years unlike the fake one that you might have to replace every year.

Mr Lawrence Kinyanjui, the Microsoft East and Southern Africa anti-piracy conversion manager recently said that the software industry loses about $2.8 billion (about Shs6.3 trillion) in unauthorised use, reproduction and installation of software programmes in Africa and the Middle East annually.

He noted: “For every dollar a rightful owner makes, a person selling an illegal version makes $6 or more.”

Counterfeit medicine accounts for $200 billion (Shs468 trillion) and $50 billion (Shs117 trillion) in counterfeit cigarettes while pirated music and movies account for $60 billion (Shs140 trillion) world-wide.

According to the CIA fact book, counterfeiting and piracy has the ability to frustrate creative efforts, lower countries’ incentives to innovate, threaten existence of some companies and deprive national economies of vital tax revenue that would have translated into economic growth.
The fact book adds illegal reproduction and sale of goods and services also exposes legitimate businesses to unfavourable competition, encourages criminal organisations, erodes respect for intellectual property rights and threatens the health and safety of consumers.
Recently, Mr Zou Xiaoming, a trade expert at the Chinese Embassy was quoted in the Ugandan press as saying that most importers especially from Uganda ask Chinese manufacturers for low quality goods, which they go on to label as super brands known in world business circles.


He said: “When such goods get onto the market, they are sold expensively by unscrupulous importers only for consumers to realise that they were sold fake goods after a few days of usage.”