Traders within Kigali City say that they continue to trade in substandard products due to consumers’ preference for such goods.
According to them, the most profitable products include flat irons, extension cables, watches and shoes.
Gilbert Kabano, a businessman dealing in home appliances, explained that a substandard extension cable costs Rwf 2,500 which is way cheaper that a genuine one that costs between Rwf 14,000 and Rwf 15,000.
He added that an original Philips flat iron costs around Rwf 20,000, whereas a comparable substandard one is sold at Rwf 8,500.
“According to my analysis, traders still import substandard products because they make a lot of profit since most consumers would rather buy a cheap substandard product rather than an expensive original one,” Kabano said.
There has been public uproar over the flooding of substandard products in the local market, particularly electronics, which have a shorter life-span or easily get damaged as the traders do not offer a warranty.
The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) that is responsible for consumer protection and ensuring that only quality products find their way to the market, says it does not have the capacity to check all imports.
Speaking to The New Times yesterday, Philip Nzaire, the Director of Quality Assurance at RBS, said that due to limited capacity.
“There are items that RBS has not considered priority, like shoes and watches, because we are more concerned with products that have a direct bearing on human life,” he said.
Nzaire added that products currently considered as a priority include electrical cables, packed milk and other products that can be hazardous to human health and/or negatively impact on the environment.
RBS has been discouraging the importation of certain substandard home appliances, especially electronics.
Emmanuel Rukundo who deals in watches near Nyabugogo Bus Park, said that watches cost as low as Rwf 1,000.
“I deal in substandard watches because I don’t have enough capital to purchase original ones, and based on my observation, it’s very difficult for our clients to differentiate between something that is of good quality from the substandard one,” Rukundo said, adding that the substandard watches are mainly imported from Uganda and Kenya.
Kabano disclosed that most substandard electronic appliances are imported from China.
A Kigali resident, David Bugingo, advised the government to put in place more stringent measures to protect consumers who are normally duped as they cannot differentiate original products from fake ones.
Plans are underway to build the capacity of RBS, and according to Nzaire, the institution will soon begin fighting against substandard products of all types.