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UNBS warns on substandard solar products in Kampala markets

Winnie Grace Onziru, senior standards officer, UNBS (PHOTO/Courtesy).

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has warned on the substandard solar products in Kampala markets.
Clause 21 of the UNBS Act prohibits the manufacturer’s sale, distribution, or holding for the purpose of selling any product that does not meet compulsory Uganda standards.

Speaking during the Solar Standards Awareness Workshop on Thursday, Patricia Bageine Ejalu, deputy Executive Director UNBS revealed that in a survey conducted in 2017, most of the solar products sold especially in Kampala do not meet the standard.

The survey was done under Rural Electrification Agency when and they bought products from different places, took them for test and they discovered that 70% did not meet the standards.

Benson Bena, Off_ grid Manager Rural Electrification Authority(REA) said that solar is another approach, especially where the grid can not reach.

He noted that government has a program to have 60% of the population with electricity by 2027, and 30% of the connections required to reach universal access have to come from stand alone solar systems.
“However, we realize there’s one big problem to achieving that 30%; the quality of the solar products on the market. It’s important that these standards are put in place and are adhered to.

Solar is going to play a big role in the rural electrification and we believe that even as the prices of batteries keep going down, for us who settle in scattered settlements, solar is going to play a much bigger role and there will be no need for the extension of the grid,” he said.

Likewise, Emmy Kimbowa, chairperson of the Board of the Uganda Solar Energy Association (USEA) noted that the solar energy complements the rural electrification program of Uganda and it’s very easy and much cheaper to deploy solar energy solutions than the grid based power supply.
He added that the need to have access to modern services is deeply rooted within the Uganda National energy policy.

Minimum Standards

Winnie Grace Onziru, senior standards officer, UNBS noted that UNBS has standards of quality, and testing.
“The first one is truth in advertising. We expect that a trader tells the truth about their product, give a customer a manual of use and tests are going to be carried out to ensure that products they are giving the customers meet the standard.”

She further said that penalties for selling substandard solar products will be prosecution, because a standard is a law.
However, people with complaints have two months to do so.

Hudu Hussein, RCC of Kampala noted that there’s a challenge in Uganda that there are various counterfeit products.

“We have a section of Ugandans who have made it a habit to produce a copy of a copy of the original and it’s really affecting us. We have people who are dying and you’ll think you have malaria yet you’re suffering from something that is as a result of counterfeit products that you use.

“Therefore, I want to appeal to all Ugandans to be very mindful of the products they buy. These products must bear the real UNBS stamp.”

Meanwhile, Everest Kayondo, Chairman, Kampala Capital City Traders’ Association (KACITA) urged solar dealers to go and read the gazette, understand what is intended and if they are not comfortable with some of these sections, they can take the matter to the minister of trade.

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