Kenya’s software piracy rate fell by one-percentage point last year to settle at 79-percent according to the seventh annual global software piracy study released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), an international association representing the global software industry, in partnership with market research firm International Data Corporation-IDC. According to the study, both Kenya and Botswana’s piracy rate fell from 80% in 2008 to 79% in 2009.
The new software piracy data reveals that the use of pirated software in East and Southern Africa remains among the highest worldwide.
PC software piracy rates in Botswana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe averaged 83% last year (2009). IDC found that the total commercial value of unlicensed software in the four countries totaled US$83 million in 2009. The value of stolen software in Kenya alone accounted for $66 million last year.
“While we see some signs that the technology industry’s intensified anti-piracy education activities and enforcement actions in collaboration with local governments and law enforcement agencies are making a difference, we have watched software piracy rates decline by only one percent in the region over the past five years,” said Andrew Waititu, License Compliance Manager for Microsoft East & Southern Africa.
Commenting on the statistics, Edward Sigei, Enforcement and Legal Officer, Kenya Copyright Board said a lot remains to be done to gain public support in the fight against infringement of copyright in software.
“The Kenya Copyright Board will continue to work closely with software manufacturers and other industry players to protect their intellectual property and secure revenue for taxpaying businesses and government,” said Sigei.
Meanwhile, in Zambia and Zimbabwe, piracy rates stayed the same in 2009 and both countries remain among the top 25 economies with the highest piracy rates. With a piracy rate of 92%, Zimbabwe is second only to Georgia for the highest piracy rate in the world. Zambia ranks #21 on the global list, with a piracy rate of 82%.
“Due to the exponential growth of PC markets in emerging economies like Botswana, Kenya, Zambia and Zimbabwe, we are seeing the worldwide piracy rate rise from 41% in 2008 to 43% in 2009,” said Dale Waterman, BSA Co-Chair, Middle East and Africa. “This rise of unlicensed software in East and Southern Africa’s markets limits local technology innovation, job creation and economic growth. Furthermore, piracy robs governments of vital tax revenues.”
A recent IDC whitepaper sponsored by the BSA also reported that if Kenya reduced its piracy rate by just 10% over four years, it would create an additional 977 local IT jobs and contribute $73.60 million to Kenya’s GDP. According to IDC, that represents an increase in total revenue for the local IT industry of $40.01 million and additional revenue for the government of $7.18 million in taxation.1
“An average 83% piracy rate for East and Southern Africa is unacceptable. Countries like Kenya, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe have more to offer than pirated software,” commented Waititu. “We need to do more to protect the honest local businesses forced to cut jobs because they are competing with pirated software that has been prices at below-market levels. Furthermore, we need to preserve the hard work and intellectual property local software developers put in to technology.”
In addition to the impact on local economies, piracy has harmful consequences for the consumer as well. Counterfeit software is often vulnerable to computer viruses, malware and hackers, leaving consumers and businesses unprotected against data loss or identity theft. With the increasing sophistication of software pirates and cyber criminals, Microsoft warns consumers to avoid the threats to their privacy and security when considering buying cheap counterfeit technology.
“As part of Microsoft’s anti-piracy efforts, we will continue to work with industry partners, local governments and law enforcement agencies to root out software pirates and fight for consumer protection on a global scale,” added Waititu.
For more details on the methodology and a copy of the complete BSA study, visit www.bsa.org/globalstudy.