The U.S. government is concerned by Chinese companies that have infiltrated Ikeja Computer Village, Nigeria’s leading technology market cluster, to push counterfeit versions of American tech products into the country, according to confidential dispatch from the U.S. Mission in Nigeria to Washington, which has been made public by WikiLeaks.
[blockquote right=”pull-right” cite=”William Howe, Acting Consul General in the U.S. Consulate in Lagos”]According to the cable, the Nigerian office of HP reported to the mission that the U.S. technology company loses between $20-30million in potential revenue annually “due to ink and toner cartridge counterfeiting.” [/blockquote]
“It appears mainland Chinese firms view Ikeja as an ideal operations base for selling pirated computer hardware and software products”, senior official of the US Embassy in Nigeria has said in confidential 2006 cable to Washington to underscore increasing concern over economic losses to American technology companies, HP and Microsoft, according to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks, the online, non-profit organization, which publishes secret information, news leaks, and classified media from anonymous sources, was initiated in 2006 in Iceland by the organization Sunshine Press, which claimed a database of more than 1.2 million documents within a year of its launch. Julian Assange, an Australian Internet activist, is generally described as its founder, editor-in-chief, and director, according to Wikipedia.
WikiLeaks has gained global attention when it collaborated with major global media organisations to release U.S. State department diplomatic “cables.”
It has now emerged from a ‘cable’ released by Wikileaks that the U.S. government was alerted about a syndicate of Chinese companies, who work through Dubai in the United Arabs Emirate, to sell counterfeit products in Nigeria.
In a February 2006 classified cable, William Howe, Acting Consul General in the U.S. Consulate in Lagos, said that the mission was contacted by U.S. technology companies, HP and Microsoft, over alleged sale of counterfeit versions of their products in Nigeria.
The entry of Chinese companies to push counterfeit technology products in Ikeja Computer Village, Nigeria’s leading technology market cluster has been a major source of concern for the U.S. government, which has investigated the problem.
The fresh revelations have shown that the U.S. government raised concern over the infiltration of the market by Chinese companies that sell fake, substandard and counterfeit versions of products by U.S. brands.
According to the cable, the Nigerian office of HP reported to the mission that the U.S. technology company loses between $20-30 million yearly in potential revenue “due to ink and toner cartridge counterfeiting.”
Howe said in the cable, that counterfeiting will likely increase in the country because the affected tech companies claimed, “local law enforcement and the Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) are doing little to combat intellectual property right (IPR) violations.”
The U.S. official also said that the Computers and Allied Products Dealers Association (CAPDAN), the umbrella body of businesses in Ikeja Computer Village, said it has received growing enquiry from Chinese companies interested in partnering with their local counterparts.
The US cable said that these partnerships have helped to worsen the counterfeiting problem, as Chinese companies have been able to infiltrate the market to sell the illegal products.
“Technology Distribution Ikeja Branch Marketing Manager Obinna Onwu said CAPDAN and local law enforcement would periodically stage “raids” at Otigba market. However, he noted police often would either return the goods to street vendors or keep the items to sell themselves. Organizations like CAPDAN are merely staging these raids for publicity to make it appear they are combating IPR violations, when in fact they profit by it, he said”, the US Acting Consul said in the cable to Washington.
Please view the full details of the US Consulate Cable in the next pages: