Software Piracy growing at a staggering rate in Africa


Over 87 percent of the software sold in Ethiopia is pirated

Over 87 percent of the software sold in the streets of Ethiopia is pirated according to the Ethiopian Intellectual Property Organization (EIPO). Birhanu Adelo Director General of EIPO said that any kind of software sold in the streets of Addis Ababa is mostly illegally downloaded or pirated according to an assessment his organization conducted.
To fight this illegal operation EIPO signed a partnership agreement with Microsoft the world’s biggest software maker to fight counterfeit software from entering the country.
“EIPO will work with Microsoft to create public awareness on the benefits of genuine software for local businesses in terms of reliability and security. Piracy will affect the interests and economy of a country,” said Birhanu at a press conference held at the Sheraton Addis on November 14, 2012,
The two organizations have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and will invest in training journalists, original software distributor channels and government procurement managers to raise awareness. A media campaign has also been launched to educate consumers.
“The program will focus on how all Ethiopians stand to benefit from protecting intellectual property rights, which fosters innovation by protecting local technology entrepreneurs. Intellectual property violations have negative cultural and social implications, often bringing with them the adverse effects of a criminal environment,” said Wanja Muriithi, representative of Microsoft East and Southern Africa.
Earlier this year, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) announced that the software piracy rate in East and Southern Africa remained stubbornly high in 2011, standing at 83 percent, double the global software piracy rate which is 42 percent. The report says that the commercial value of unlicensed software installed on personal computers in East and Southern Africa, excluding South Africa, reached USD 108 million in 2011.
Some of the consequences of using counterfeit software, mentioned at the press conference, were loss of income for the government through tax evasion and decreased interest from multinational software vendor companies in investing in places with high rates of piracy.
“It is very hard to differentiate between the fake and the real product but there are some indicators people should use to identify fake items; like if “Made in USA” is written on the package, they should be aware that none of Microsoft’s software is produced in the US. There is also fake Windows XP software that is still out there in the market but Microsoft stopped producing them in 2008. This kind of information needs to reach the public so they can protect themselves from counterfeit products,” said Wanja.
EIPO is working with the Federal Ethics and Anticorruption Commission  to established checkpoints for software that enters the country. They are also working on passing a law that will incriminate whoever is found distributing pirated software.