As one of the biggest victims of the counterfeit trade on the continent, HP is today hosting a summit in Johannesburg in an attempt to raise awareness around what has become the scourge of legitimate vendors.

The company says that the Anti-Counterfeiting Africa Conference aims to help educate and empower organisations across the continent against the negative effects of counterfeit trade and highlight the impact and consequences it has on emerging economies.

Reports show that as the global trade in counterfeit goods grows, Africa is increasingly being targeted as a market for counterfeit merchandise. A worrying trend has also emerged whereby Africa is being used as a transit route for fake goods, which poses an indirect threat to European and American markets.

African nations are, therefore, becoming increasingly aware of the challenges that counterfeit trade represents to their economies and their citizens – and are becoming more active in the fight against it.

Government officials, law-enforcers and representatives of ministries responsible for anti-counterfeiting measures are gathering at the summit to discuss consumer protection and raise awareness against illegitimate goods. HP says it will use the summit as a platform to outline how to fight counterfeiting, and look specifically at how policy makers can toughen applicable laws and enforcement capacity across Africa.

“The HP Anti-counterfeiting Programme works hard to protect partners and customers, but this is only made possible through close collaboration with law enforcers around the world,” says Fabrice Campoy, Printing and Personal Systems Africa director. “We therefore truly appreciate the cooperation of African law enforcement to helping to make this event possible, and protect African customers from the inferior standards and potential risks of counterfeit.”

Fabrice says that authentic HP LaserJet and HP inkjet print cartridges, unlike counterfeits, benefit from a history of investment and testing to provide superior performance and consistent results. This investment usually runs into billions of dollars.

“False goods impact businesses and global trade through lost revenue, damage to brands and the negative effects on hard-earned reputation and consumer confidence,” says Jeff Kwasny, brand protection programme manager for HP’s Printing and Personal Systems group.

“At the 2014 Anti-Counterfeiting Africa Conference, we are bringing together those most affected by counterfeits in the region – from policy makers to brands like Unilever and Nike – so we can work towards tackling this criminal activity together.”

Across the EMEA region, over the last five years (2009 through 2013), HP has conducted around 1 600 investigations, resulting in about 1 300 enforcement actions (raids and seizures by authorities) and around 11 million units of counterfeit products and components seized, thus preventing them from being sold in the EMEA marketplace and beyond.

The Programme has also overseen around 4 000 unannounced inspections of HP products at the warehouses of HP Channel Partners across EMEA in the past five years (2009 through 2013), to verify that they are not selling counterfeit products to their customers.