Skills training is key to reduce fake goods and services on the market

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Skills training is key to reduce fake goods and services on the market
Everest Turyahikayo, Manager, Uganda

Manufacturers of fake products and providers of fake services operate out of expediency with insufficient skills

I read an article titled “Lawyers join battle against counterfeit goods” published by the Ugandan new vision paper ( on 17 February, 2011. It stated that over 60% of the goods in Uganda are counterfeit and 90% of these goods are substandard. Every Ugandan who has bought one item or another agrees that almost everything is fake in the country. The most common fake items are drugs especially Coartem, electric appliances, mobile phones, cosmetics, computer accessories, plastic products like pens, toothbrushes, sanitary products, detergents, soap, shoe polish, carbonated drinks and electrical appliances. There are other fake items regulatory authorities have not paid attention to especially computer software. Recently I downloaded window 7 software only to find it was fake.
Much as attention is put on fake products, it is also a fact that many professionals deliver fake services. It is likely that a fake professional will produce a fake service or fake product. Some Ugandans have lost their lives to the collapsing buildings due to fake engineers. Fake engineers have no ability to determine whether the soil on a plot of land can support a six storied building. They cannot evaluate the impact of constructing a building in the middle of other structures. In the end, fake engineers manufacture fake construction materials which are later used by fake construction engineers. These fake construction engineers lose their lives at the construction site as their employers and clients lose billions of money.
There is also a problem of fake second hand items on the market. These are counterfeit products which were reused in other countries and resold in developing countries like Uganda. All markets selling clothes, footwear and electrical appliances have such fake goods. You buy a trouser or skirt from St. Balikudembe market, by the time you reach home it is torn and you have to visit a sewing machine on a daily basis. If research was conducted about the impact of these fake items in the country, perhaps we would get shocked at how much Ugandans are losing money and time due to these fake items.
Although the proliferation of fake products on the market can be attributed to many factors including unethical practices, inadequate skills play a big role. Countries which do not have strict policies on skills development are likely to have fake industries, fake manufacturers and fake products. Most of these countries are in Africa and Asia where education systems are theoretical. I have never seen fake products made in Germany, France or UK. These countries are superior in industrialization because skills training is highly professionalized.
Research also shows that countries which have strict examination laws do not have many cases of fake products. Countries where examination malpractices have been reported have had many incidences of fake products. This is because, students obtain good grades through cheating and employers hire them basing on glittering academic papers. In the end, organizations are filled with workers who cannot invent anything. Factories are dominated by employees who lack innovative and creative skills. These workers resort to coping genuine manufacturers. Any professional who has got a combination of good theory and practical training may find it easier to invent a new product and avoid counterfeiting.
Any attempt to fight fake products on the market should move along with skills development. Uganda should prioritize skills development. University academic programmes should be made more practice. Students should be assessed on the basis of the skills gained while at university. They should not be assessed on the basis of how best they reproduce theories in exams.

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Other Views by this Author: Integrity, like charity, begins at home | Every one needs a manifesto | Organizational records can be protected from hackers | Amidst unemployment, skills shortage exists

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