Danger Looms As Counterfeit, Sub-Standard Products Flourish

Contraband products seized

Lagos, Nigeria, February 3, 2018// – The prevalence and proliferation of counterfeited products across the globe is far reaching and a major source for concern.

In Africa, the global trade in counterfeit goods was worth $461 billion in 2016 and accounted for 2.5% of all global exports.

To put it bluntly, markets in the country are booming because of the proliferation of counterfeit and substandard products.

It is shifting from relatively innocuous items like shoes and handbags to things like medicine and pesticides that can carry serious health and safety implications.

In Nigeria alone, about 40% of goods sold are counterfeits, 80% of which are sourced from China, according to the Director-General, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

The figure for counterfeit electrical products is much higher, with electrical manufacturing companies and electrical brands being the most severely affected, losing up to $72billion to counterfeiters in Nigeria.

In 2017, N8 billion worth of substandard electrical cables were brought into Nigeria from China, barely two months after SON had destroyed electrical cables and bulbs valued at over N450 million for failure to pass the agency’s quality standards tests. The influx of these products, as well as other counterfeit products, causes Nigeria to lose about N15 billion annually, in revenue.

The loss is far more than financial, as fake electrical products can cause electric shocks, overheating or fires, short circuits, equipment failure, property damage, loss of lives, and legal implications, amongst other things. For example, on December 22, 2012, a fire razed NAFDAC`s Warehouse in Lagos, which according to the Deputy Director of Public Relations, NAFDAC, was caused by the use of fake electrical products. Similar incidents also occurred in Akwa-Ibom in 2015, involving 71 residential buildings, 59 market stores and 42 government buildings, all attributable to fake or substandard electrical materials being utilized, according to the Director of Fire Services in the State, Ndareke Ukpe.

Francis Emenike, whose two sons choked to death due to fake electrical fittings, is one of the numerous people that have been thrown into mourning as a result of electrical counterfeits. It is clear that using counterfeit products in one’s home or business is a safety hazard, an accident waiting to happen.

The responsibility for preventing the spread and use of counterfeit products lies with everyone in the electrical product market value chain – the designers, manufacturers, importers, suppliers, installers and consumers alike – as well as regulators of the industry, which in the case of Nigeria, is the SON.

It is imperative that players in this market, especially consumers and installers, are able to tell original electrical products apart from counterfeits.

Just recently, SON revealed that the quantity of sub-standard in Nigerian market has reached an alarming level, and added that it has been compelled to come up with strategies that will reduce the circulation of counterfeit and substandard products in the country.

SON’s coordinator in Kano and Jigawa states, Mr Yunusa B. Mohammed, made the remarks at a sectoral stakeholder’s sensitization workshop on the reduction of sub-standard good in Kano.

According to him, the rate at which sub-standard goods kept increasing was one of the reasons for the workshop aimed at working closely with stakeholders to enhance the competitiveness of their products by availing them with relevant information.

He added that, the workshop would also arm the stakeholders with the technical knowledge that would guarantee their products and services unfettered access to both domestic and international markets.

Similarly, the Director-General of SON, Mr Osita Anthony Aboloma, represented by the Regional Coordinator, North-West, Mr Dauda Yakubu, stated that standardisation as a means of industrialization cannot be over-emphasised adding that there was a need to continue developing and propagating standards as a guide for product development.

Oftentimes, one feature of counterfeit electrical products is that they are usually cheaper than original products of high quality. They also usually have one or more of the following: additional markings or labelling not applied by the original manufacturers, missing or poor-quality labels, out-of-date product codes, missing, non-genuine or packaging with typos or grammatical errors, tampered seal, and missing information such as contact information of the manufacturer. Counterfeits, in most cases, generally look poorly made.

One way to avoid purchasing products that constitute a safety hazard is to simply avoid bargains that seem too good to be true from a price perspective. Another is to perform a careful examination of the product(s) before purchase. But the best way is to always buy from authorised dealers who usually have certificates evidencing their authenticity.

In some cases, the serial numbers of electrical products can be obtained from dealers and confirmed on the appropriate manufacturer’s website.

While everyone – from end users to retailers to wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers and regulators – has a role to play in the eradication of counterfeit products, manufacturers are rising to the challenge of making it easier for end users to distinguish between their products and counterfeits.

Notable among manufacturers actively combating counterfeits is Eaton, a power management company who in 2012, launched an online Circuit Breaker Authentication (CBA) tool in the United States to provide customers with the ability to authenticate Eaton molded case circuit breakers.

Another is Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, which has anti-counterfeiting laboratories that use technologies such as Mass Spectrometry, Raman Spectrometry and Infrared Spectrometry to detect counterfeit drugs.

There are many potentially unavoidable accidents, and as we navigate through 2018, all we can do is be safety conscious enough to avoid them. Accidents occur because of subpar products, surprisingly the accidents on the other hand, are avoidable, and must be avoided as the risk of unnecessary.



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