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Gachagua calls for global cooperation in safeguarding consumer rights

By Mercy Simiyu December 7th, 2023 2 min read

In a keynote address at the opening of the 2023 Consumers International Global Congress, Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua commended the Competition Authority of Kenya for its commitment to protecting consumers in the country.

He emphasised the need for a collaborative global effort, integrating technology and harmonizing laws to combat illicit trade and ensure the well-being of consumers.

Highlighting a concerning report from the UN and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, Gachagua revealed that consumers in Kenya are exposed to exploitation, with two out of five medicines on shelves being counterfeits.

He stressed the severity of this issue, not only jeopardizing lives but also undermining confidence in modern treatment.

The Deputy President spoke at the Radisson Blu Hotel Upper Hill, Nairobi, on Wednesday, underscoring the importance of global cooperation in addressing consumer protection challenges.

He acknowledged the Competition Authority’s significant impact, particularly in regulating digital money lenders, affecting over 30 million users of mobile money services through enhanced disclosure and transparency practices.

To fortify consumer rights, the Authority has collaborated with various sector regulators, including the Kenya Bureau of Standards, Communication Authority, Anti-Counterfeit Authority, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Department of Weights and Measures, and Kenya Civil Aviation Authority.

Gachagua called for heightened public awareness and advocacy, referencing a report by the Kenya Anti Counterfeit Authority, which disclosed that 30 percent of counterfeit goods are locally manufactured, while 70 percent are smuggled into the market.

Advocating for the global harmonization of consumer protection laws, Gachagua emphasized the need to align these laws with technological advancements.

He proposed the adoption of Artificial Intelligence to track, apprehend, and suppress networks involved in consumer exploitation worldwide.

Due to the interconnectedness of physical and digital marketplaces, Gachagua stressed that harmonized consumer protection laws are crucial for unified application across different jurisdictions, particularly in Africa, where countries are at varying stages of consumer protection implementation.

Acknowledging Kenya’s progress in establishing and implementing key frameworks for protecting consumers in both physical and digital spaces, Gachagua emphasized the necessity of updating legal provisions to address evolving consumer rights violations alongside technological advancements.

In light of a recent report on the future of finance revealing that millions in Kenya rely on mobile phones for communication and payments, Gachagua emphasized the need for policymakers to stay ahead of threats in e-commerce, including financial fraud, phishing, and ransom attempts.

He concluded by asserting that as the digital revolution transforms business practices, legal provisions must be regularly reviewed to remain effective and relevant.