Anti-counterfeit inspector Ibrahim Bulle displays fake cigarettes impounded at the Port of Mombasa.

Four out of 10 consumers in Kenya see no point in reporting illicit trade, a survey indicates, with a third of consumers continuing to buy counterfeit goods knowingly.

The country loses more than Sh153 billion tax revenue annually to illicit trade, according to the Anti-Counterfeits Authority(ACA), with tobacco and alcohol products among the most traded.

Half of those surveyed said they had seen illicit tobacco or alcohol on sale in the last two days, the survey by Stop Crime Kenya (StoCK) indicates.

The survey was conducted by researchers from Cofek through telephone interviews with 100 consumers in 24 counties, each.

Majority of the surveyed noted that even though there are agencies to which one can report illicit trade, there are significant barriers preventing them from doing so, with one in four people saying they fear retaliation if they report illicit trade.

Other challenges include failure to understand reporting mechanisms and low follow up by authorities after cases are reported.

Kenya has one of the largest markets for fake goods and contraband in East Africa according to ACA, ranging from alcohol, electronics and pharmaceuticals to food, clothing and tobacco.

This costs the country loses in potential tax revenue, robbing citizens off employment opportunities and deprives the state off funds for vital service such as healthcare.

“A third of consumers buy counterfeit goods knowingly. We must change their mindset. Awareness of the negative impact of counterfeit good needs to be enhanced and we need a national action plan to combat illicit trade,” said John Akoten, deputy director at ACA

By Fred Azelwa.