RBS warns importers of fake IT products

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has warned importers of substandard information and technology equipment.

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has warned importers of substandard information and technology equipment.

Speaking to The New Times, yesterday, Philip Nzaire, the director of quality assurance at Rwanda Bureau of Standards, said rapid growth in Rwanda’s ICT market over the past few years has resulted in the importation of fake and substandard goods and accessories.

“On several occasions we have impounded fake ICT products at our country’s entry points. The influx of fake products cut across all market segments, ranging from telecoms to computers/laptops, TV sets, electric cables, flash disks, among others,” he said.

Nzaire said there are no statistics on the counterfeit products, but that the standards body has managed to force the traders to ship the impounded products back before they find their way into the country.

“We are targeting entry points because it is difficult to get them out of the markets and most of the products are kept in places we hardly know and not easy to establish,” Nzaire said.

He urged manufacturers, vendors and operators to ensure that their equipment conform to standards before they are shipped into the country.

“Traders dealing in fake products sell them cheaply because they are ‘fake’ but still they are charging innocent Rwandans expensively and as well defrauding the government,” Nzaire said.

He said RBS is working closely with IT Equipment Resellers Association (ITRA) and other relevant institutions to be tough on people and institutions engaged in the shipment and dumping of substandard equipment in the country.

Serge Rusagara, the ITRA vice president, said selling fake ICT equipment could derail Rwanda’s aspiration to become a regional ICT hub.

“If the dealers bring in the country poor quality products, they will be reaping off Rwandans and defrauding the country. We are fighting this vice and its one of the reasons behind the establishment of IT resellers association,” he said.

Rusagara said dealers were using the opportunity to ship in substandard IT products because Rwanda was promoting the ICT growth and some of the products are tax-free.

Plans for ‘Technopole’

He said they were engaged in the fight against the influx of counterfeit products by working closely with the government to properly regulate and identify the substandard goods. 

“Our goal is to see ICT equipments with good quality reach every Rwandan up to the grassroots,” Rusagara said, adding that there are times such equipment are sold at the same rate or even higher than original ones.

The traders are fond of importing fake goods and place stickers, trademarks and labels of original products on the fake items. They sell the products at a price far cheaper than the rate at which the original of the same brand goes for.

Rusagara said the vice is being perpetrated by traders who operate small shops because they do not have a name to protect.

However, despite the hurdles in achieving ICT growth, Rwanda is planning to set up a small city “Techno pole” that will host a collection of technological investments including training, industries, research and development.

The ICT city will be located at the Kigali Special Economic Zone in Nyandungu sector, Gasabo District.

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