Nigerian anti-counterfeiting startup Chekkit piloting rollout in Afghanistan.

Nigerian anti-counterfeiting startup Chekkit has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Afghanistan’s Ministry of Public Health to help tackle the problem of counterfeit medications in the country using its blockchain-based system.

Formed at the Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) in Accra, Ghana, Chekkit has built a platform that tracks product movement and the parties involved in the transfer of products from warehouse to distributor, and on to the final consumer.

Essentially, Chekkit is an anti-counterfeiting, asset tracking and consumer feedback analytics tool. It produces tamper-proof unique ID labels, either as QR codes or numeric codes, which can be placed on premium packaged food and beverage products for supply chain and consumer feedback tracking.

The startup’s Afghan pilot can be traced back to a partnership agreed with blockchain ecosystem Fantom after Chekkit was a strong performer at a challenge run by the company at the AfricArena event in Cape Town last year. Chekkit’s solution is deployed on Fantom’s DAG network, and Fantom, which was already in discussions with the Afghan government, is a co-signatory on the MoU.

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The project, which begins with a three-month pilot, will utilise Chekkit’s product authentication technology to track and verify all drugs sold in the country. Chekkit’s smart labels will be attached to 80,000 pharmaceutical products sold in the Afghan market, allowing for verification of these drugs before purchase or use. 

Chekkit has also provided an oversight capability for the Health Ministry by providing special hand-held devices that they can use to verify the authenticity of the products at the point of entry into the country. 

“The Afghan Ministry of Public Health had been looking for effective ways to verify the authenticity and effectiveness of drugs that are being imported into the country, and Chekkit provided them with a way to authenticate the drugs at the point of entry into the country and also at point of purchase. We believe this double focus strategy will make it extremely difficult for counterfeiters to thrive,” said Dare Odumade, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Chekkit.

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“Through this partnership, we will provide the pharma companies involved with valuable consumer insights and a reward programme to encourage purchase and verification by buyers, as well as give the government a transparent view of the pharmaceutical market. On completion of a successful pilot, we envisage our technology being deployed across the board for all meds coming into Afghanistan.”

Meanwhile, Chekkit is also working on a partnership with global pharmaceutical giant Merck, secured after the startup took part in the Merck accelerator. Through this partnership, Chekkit is building out smart labels for last mile product tracking for the African market, and it is aiming to reach 10 million consumers over the next six months.

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Odumade told Disrupt Africa the Chekkit team was “pumped” with the progress it had made over the last two years, securing partnerships with governments and enterprises.

“We are even more excited about the future, with positive responses from consumers as our labels have seen more than 50 per cent authentication rate from consumers, which shows we can all expect to win the fight against counterfeits with the joint support of manufacturers, governments and consumers. We all need to play our parts,” he said. 

“We are targeting even more aggressive growth over the next three years, with an aim to win more market share in Nigeria, Africa and the Middle East at large.”

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