Tackling the pirated software epidemic sweeping Kenya

When a BSA Global Software Survey was conducted in 2014, it was found that piracy rates in Kenya were at nearly 78%, that is a commercial value at 12.8 billion Kenyan shillings in pirated software.

Kenya has been losing the war against software piracy.

Kunle Awosika, Microsoft’s country manager, said that Kenya lacks a cyber-security policy;

“There is no national security without cyber security,” he said. “How do you perpetuate cyber security through counterfeit software? That software has viruses, and you can imagine what impact that has on enterprises, consumers, and small businesses in this country.”

Perhaps this is what led the Kenya Copyright Board (KEBCOBO) to take the decision and step to slow down if not entirely stop the ongoing piracy. In an article by the Standard media on the 6th of April 2016 brought to light how the Kenya Copyright Board had announced an amnesty that will last a month for individuals, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as well as corporations that are using non-genuine software, to allow them a chance to purchase or subscribe to licensed software ahead of a planned crackdown.

It can be assumed that a lack of awareness among Kenyans is what has led to a rise in pirated software; Kenyans may not believe that they can afford genuine software. The poor law enforcement (prior to the KECOBO’s efforts) can also be blamed for the piracy. This is the reason that Microsoft has also decided to join the fight by spreading awareness to consumers on the purchasing of genuine, legal, non-pirated software.

The KECOBO acting Executive Director, Edward Sigei, said the following when speaking to the Business Daily:

“Software piracy is increasingly stifling economic growth in Kenya today… The rampant           use of non-genuine software is denying the country an opportunity to derive gains from licensed software, which has shown greater return on investment elsewhere in the world.”

KEBCOBO plans to arrest and prosecute all those pirating and infringing the copyright law after the given period of time these SMEs have been given.

It will be interesting to see what unfolds in the following month.

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