Battling Counterfeiting in African Supply Chains

Counterfeiting is not a new phenomenon in the African market, but it is quickly making its way into supply chains across the continent and triggering crises for many organizations or businesses.

Almost every other product has been counterfeited from music CDs, movies, food, drugs, bags, and other items. There has been no shortage of counterfeit items over the years.

Take the drug counterfeiting market; it is well over $200 billion globally, and Africa is responsible for roughly 40% of that.

The data is similar across multiple industries, with Africa and Asia taking the lead. The problem is not new, but it is beginning to creep into various supply chains on the continent.

As businesses and organizations seek to reduce the cost of their supply chains, they are putting pressure on procurement to source cheaper items. The challenge with cheaper is that cheaper comes with a lot of problems. In the same way, being expensive doesnโ€™t always mean quality.

 

Why is Counterfeiting a Big Challenge For African Supply Chains

There are two main reasons why counterfeited goods in the supply chain are problematic for many businesses and organizations. The first is customer health and safety, and a close second is brand reputation.

No business wants to be responsible for the health deterioration of any of its customers. Besides the moral issues, it is a PR nightmare for any business and supply chain.

Remember Samsung and the exploding batteries? Luckily, there were no lives affected. However, the company took a major hit, and they are still trying to recover in some international markets.

Considering the current economic crisis hitting the continent, such a bad PR could end many businesses. Although many more supply chains are beginning to source cheaper and not so better, the consequences are not worth it.

 

How to Battle Counterfeiting in African Supply Chains

There are three key ways businesses in Africa can battle counterfeiting in their supply chains. And we will explore them in this section of the article.

1. Know Who You Are Getting into Bed With

In an increasingly competitive market, supply chains must produce better and cheaper products. The best way they can do this is by collaborating with vendors who are experts in different facets of the supply chain.

However, not all suppliers are the right fit for a business or its supply chain, and it is important to flush them out. To not take this seriously is to expose the supply chain to a lot of bad-faith players, and it could eventually disrupt the entire system.

Some of the ways to do this are by conducting proper research on the suppliers and the market pedigree, evaluating their expertise, and assessing their capacity. You want these three in place before getting in bed with any supplier.

When you have thoroughly settled those three, you may start negotiating the prices of the raw materials. You may do this for multiple suppliers, but always get the basics out of the way when sourcing.

 

2. Quality Assurance

Everyone will blame your supply chain or business if things go wrong. They will seldom consider the role of the vendor in any of it. Why is this important? Taking responsibility for the type of goods or materials that make their way into the supply operations is paramount.

Quality assurance is one of the effective ways of guaranteeing the standard or quality of these goods. Irrespective of their cost to the supply chain. Counterfeiting can be intentional or not, but ensuring it has no place in your supply chain is your responsibility.

The process may differ depending on the type of industry, raw material, or supply chain. Many times, it could be as simple as checking the density of a petroleum product using a hydrometer. Other times, not as much.

It should also be conducted for direct and indirect products in the supply chain primarily because they each have their way of causing problems for the supply chain when their quality is not sorted out.

 

3. Training and Education

Training and educating staff on how to spot or identify counterfeits can prove very effective for supply chains. It allows the supply chain to decentralize the quality assurance process and gives each member of the supply chain team the ability to test the materials quickly and efficiently.

Educating the staff on why counterfeited materials in the supply chain are a terrible idea for the business, and everyone involved goes a long way. This way, suppliers also find it difficult to get past an entire team. Even if they can fool or bribe one or two team members.

Bribery is a common problem. But when the experts are more, it becomes infinitely more difficult and expensive for suppliers to take that option.

 

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