Bharti Airtel finds comradeship with Sproxil in battling Africa’s fake drugs

Giant telco Bharti Airtel yesterday announced it has partnered with Sproxil to stamp out the counterfeit drug market in Africa.

Sproxil’s Mobile Product Authentication (MPA) solution enables users to verify product validity within seconds via SMS.

Following the partnership, Airtel says it will offer the SMS-based verification service free of charge to the users.

MPA works by placing a scratch-off label on products. When the consumers buy the products, they scratch off the label to reveal a random code to be sent via SMS text message to a country-specific toll free short code. The consumer later receives a text massage indicating the product’s validity status.

The partnership is aimed at facilitating the deployment of the MPA solution across Africa’s developing economies where Airtel’s products are in use.

Commenting on the partnership, Bharti Airtel, Africa’s chief marketing officer Andre Beyers said the project is focused on bringing affordable and accessible health services to an estimated 450 million people and the battle against counterfeit drugs is a huge stride toward the goal.

“While this agreement is a step in the right direction, I also believe that collaboration between all the stakeholders in the mobile health ecosystem is key to a successful and sustainable future,” Beyers said.

According to Sproxil’s chief comments Dr. Ashifi Gogo, establishing a relationship with individual telecom companies and getting the codes essential for MPA solution per country can be time consuming as well as slow down deployment.

World’s top pharmaceutical companies have used the Sproxil’s solutions in curbing the multi-billion dollar counterfeit drug industry.

“By working with Airtel, we can get short codes in various countries different markets from just one company, streamlining the process and ‘turbo charging’ our expansion throughout the region,” Gogo said.

MPA is compatible with tangible items including personal care prodcuts, automotive aftermarket and food supplements.

“For the consumers it’s a win-win – two advanced technologies working together: Airtel’s network provides high quality, very affordable telecom service enabling consumers to take advantage of Sproxil’s brand protection solution, at no cost to them,” Gogo explained.

Airtel is mobile communications leader operating in over 17 countries across Africa including Burkina Faso, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

Headquartered in India’s New Delhi, the mobile network operator ranks among the world’s top five mobile service providers in terms of subscriber base.

The company’s offerings range from fixed line, 2G, 3G and 4G services, high speed broadband through DSL, IPTV, DTH, enterprise services including national and international long distance services to carriers.

As of June this year, the company had over 257 million subscribers across its operations.

Headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the United States, Sproxil’s operations have continued to expand across Asia and Africa. The venture-backed social enterprise provides brand protection services across emerging markets. Its MPA solution is world-renowned for ensuring purchased products are genuine and non-stolen.

The firm won the IBM SmartCamp Boston Award and the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative Outstanding Commitment Award. It has also received regulatory endorsements Kenya and Nigeria.

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