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Q & A with Mr. Andrew Waititu PDF Print E-mail
ImageCorporations lost over $1 billion in 2008 in Africa alone in software piracy.  MR. ANDREW WAITITU the Anti Piracy Manager, Microsoft East and Southern Africa, talked to BAMUTURAKI MUSINGUZI about the efforts the software giant is employing to fight the menace.
1- What are the effects of piracy on the African economies and creativity in general?
It is estimated that Africa contributed $1.013 billion in 2008 alone to software piracy, apart from the economic impact to the companies that develop this software, reducing their ability to develop new products it increases their cost of sales in turn increasing the final cost of the product.
Since 2002, the International Research Organization IDC has conducted three studies with the Business Software Alliance (BSA) on the economic benefits of lowering piracy - in terms of jobs, local IT industry revenues, and tax revenues - and we have found that the benefits to various countries go far beyond recouping losses to the global software industry.
The latest study, The Economic Benefits of Lowering PC Software Piracy, released in 2008, predicted that lowering PC software piracy by 10 points over four years would create 600,000 additional new jobs and $24 billion in additional tax revenue worldwide.

2-How do criminals counterfeit and trade in computer software?
To understand counterfeit software one must first understand a little bit more of what our business model is; Microsoft does not sell software per se, we are in the business of creating software which we then authorise end users to utilise through licences. So what we actually sell is the licence to use our software. These licences come in a number of different formats; one of the most common is the licence that comes attached with a new machine for software installed on that machine. Also known as a Certificate of Authenticity.
As we intensify our efforts to drive down piracy of our software, users are starting to demand genuine software with their computers, as the demand increases, there is a parallel market that is created supplying fake Certificates of Authenticity that look like the real thing and are sold in the market at slightly less then the genuine article. Hence the customer thinks he is getting a good deal.

3- What measures have you taken to fight this crime in Africa?
We are using a three pronged approach, the first is to create awareness among customers, to educate them on what to look out for when buying a new computer to ensure it is loaded with only genuine software, secondly we are cracking down on resellers that distribute counterfeit software as these are the primary vehicle through which piracy and counterfeit software enters the market, they are responsible for duping many unsuspecting customers into purchasing the wrong thing. Lastly we are also showing customers how they can get genuine software to convert any suspect Microsoft software installation they may have.
4-What advice do you give African governments to compliment your efforts to realize a level playing field?
It really starts with the respect for Intellectual Property; this is widely accepted as the cornerstone of development in the 21st century, intellectual property allows communities to prosper by using human resources, something that governments have control over, as opposed to natural resources. By getting governments to lead by example we hope to be able to drive the point home.

5-Is there a possibility that state agents connive with computer software criminals to cash in on this illicit trade in Africa?
As with any illicit trade you will find that corruption happens on both sides of the divide, don't be fooled that this has no victims, counterfeit software is a multi million dollar business in the region and criminals are able to influence their way in some instances, however, I'm glad to say that in most cases where we have been involved in the region , we have had a very co-operative and successful relationship with the enforcement agencies involved.
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