Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has commended the Competition Authority of Kenya for its work in the protection of consumers in the country.
However, the Deputy President told the government agency that it needed to do more particularly in raising public awareness to ensure the consumer is protected from unsafe practices.
The DP singled out harmonisation of global laws and integration of technology to combat illicit trade and eradicate exploitation of consumers as a key step in enhancing protection of consumers and their rights.
“A UN and Kenya Association of Manufacturers report indicate that consumers in our country are exposed to exploitation. For instance, two out of five medicines on the shelves are counterfeits, a factor that not only endangers the lives of consumers, but also injures confidence in modern treatment,” he explained.
He spoke on Wednesday at Radisson Blu Hotel Upper Hill, Nairobi during the opening of the 2023 Consumers International Global Congress.
Since its establishment in 2010, the Competition Authority of Kenya has received 500 complaints and the number of consumers impacted are over 20 million through the enforcement efforts.
One of the major interventions by the Authority that impacted over 30 million users of mobile money services involved disclosure and transparency practices by digital money lenders.
To entrench consumer rights, the Authority has been working with other sector regulators such as Kenya Bureau of Standards, Communication Authority, Anti-Counterfeit Authority, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Department of Weights and Measures, Kenya Civil Aviation Authority among others.
While calling for enhanced public awareness and advocacy, the Deputy President noted that a report by the Kenya Anti Counterfeit Authority indicates that 30 percent of counterfeit goods are locally manufactured while the other 70 per cent are smuggled into the market.
The Deputy President called for harmonisation of the consumer protection laws globally and align them with technological advancement.
Additionally, he pushed for adoption of Artificial Intelligence to track, arrest and suppress the networks of consumer exploitations across the world.
He explained: “Because of the global connected-ness of the physical and digital marketplace, harmonisation of the consumer protection laws is key for unified application in various jurisdictions. This is important especially in Africa where countries are at different stages and levels in consumer protection”.
He further observed that as mobile banking and digital payments keep rising, more consumer issues emerge, hence relevant laws must be aligned to meet the demands of such developments.
“Kenya is among the few countries in Africa, which have made substantive progress in establishment and implementation of e-Transaction Laws, Cybercrime Laws, Data Protection Privacy Laws, Consumer Protection Laws, among other key frameworks of protecting consumers in the physical and digital spaces,” said the Deputy President.
A recent report on the future of finance indicated that 21 million internet users and 59 million sim card subscribers in Kenya rely on mobile phones not only to communicate but to make and receive payments.
The Deputy President said that the online experience can only be sustained if the policy makers and influencers go a step ahead of threats and traps in e-commerce including financial fraud, phishing, ransoms, among others.
Mr Gachagua said that since the digital revolution is changing how business is done, consumer rights’ violations are also evolving.
“With violation of consumers evolving with technology, national and transnational legal provisions will be less effective and possibly obsolete if reviews are not updated,” said the Deputy President.
At the event the Deputy President was accompanied by the Chairperson of Competition Authority of Kenya Shaka Kariuki, Director- General Consumers International Helena Leurent, Chief Executive Officer COMESA Competition Commission Dr. Willard Mwemba, advocates for Consumer Rights among other officials.
By the Deputy Presidential Communication Service(DPCS)