The Growing Menace that is Counterfeit Goods, Online Advertising and the Laws Take

Online Shooping

Online advertising has increased over the past decade. This is thanks to the expansion of Internet access to companies and consumers alike. Unfortunately, Kenya loses more than KES 100 billion worth of revenue annually from illicit trade.

This is all credited to digital platforms that have now become enablers of fraudsters and peddlers of counterfeit goods.

Online shopping, for example, has seen rogue dealers accused of delivering lower quality of goods than initially promised. We’re always taking shots at Jumia with the meme ‘What you order’ vs What you receive’. Now, you will not have to anymore.

According to Business Daily, there are laws that protect consumers from buying counterfeit goods. The same laws also uphold the rights of registered owners of trademarks.

Online Advertising in Kenya

What is it?

Well, according to the bill, “Advertisement includes a catalogue, a circular and a price list whether in digital format or not”. This is what as an advertiser would land you in jail or gain you a hefty fine. Sometimes both. Take for example vehicle importation and online advertising of the same.

More than 80 per cent of vehicles imported into the country are used models. It’s a well known fact that the mileage –number of kilometres travelled— is one of the key determinants of the retail price.

The problem comes in when advertisers and sellers alter these figures. Some used vehicles have their mileage wound down by up to 50,000 kilometres or more.


Dealers who quote false mileage  on passenger cars or commercial vehicles will now be prosecuted. Car dealers face a KES 2 million fine and five-year jail term for misleading online advertising.

This also includes declaring false mileages on imported vehicles under a proposed law. The aim is to protect consumers from dishonest business practices.

“The Bill further seeks to address the emerging market trends in

  • False trade descriptions:  any trade description which is false or misleading regards to the goods to which it is applied.
  • Misrepresentations
  • Other misstatements by criminalising such acts.”

Government inspectors will now be able to check a vehicles’ displayed mileage against that declared in the source markets to determine if the odometer has been tampered with.

False advertising on online platforms, including apps and websites, will also be punished under the proposed law. Kenya loses more than KES 100 billion worth of revenue annually from illicit trade. However, to fight this further, a multi-agency team is seizing and destroying contraband goods.

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