Survey finds up to 70% of electrical components in Africa may be fake

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We all know dodgy electrics are dangerous, and can cause fires, electrocution or damage to other pieces of kit around your home. You probably also suspect that there’s a lot of “non-genuine parts” – in the parlance of a current radio advert – around which you’re unaware of. But how big is the scale of the problem really? According a report out today it’s probably as bad as you thought.

The Survey on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa, conducted by Schneider Electric, looked at everything from basic components to white goods on the continent, and found that cheap products carrying false marks could account for as much as 70% of all electrical cables and half of other common components in Africa.

The survey took place in eleven African countries, and it involved more than 500 officials and professionals, answering a number of questions.

“This Survey on Electrical Counterfeiting in Africa is the first to be realized at such a scale. Surveys on counterfeiting were already conducted at national level in some of the African countries of the survey but never in eleven African countries at once, with such a different historical background and such a different level of development,” the survey detailed.

Figure 1
Respondents were asked what the main counterfeit electrical goods in their country was.

According to the survey, “the other electrical products mentioned ‘spontaneously’ by the respondents, though not as frequently, were: energy-saving bulbs (accounted for as bulbs), small motors, pocket radios, remote controllers, DVDs, TVs, high voltage surge protector, LED lighting.”

Luckily, the most counterfeit brands in the 11 African countries questioned are virtually unknown in South Africa, so we are at less risk of owning or using any faux electrical goods.

Figure 2
Respondents were asked what they thought was the most counterfeit brands.

But where would one find counterfeit products? Respondents in the survey ranked street vendors as the main source. In a worrying trend, retailers and installers also played a huge part in distributing counterfeit goods.

Figure 3
Respondents were asked from whom counterfeit goods could be bought.

“Based on these results, the first conclusion is that counterfeiting of most common electrical products is widely spread in all African countries, representing 40% to 80% of their markets. At such a scale, as interviewees of the survey stated, the negative economical impact is the first consequence both for the countries and manufacturers,” the survey concluded.

Tracy Garner, Anti-Counterfeiting Global Manager for Schneider Electric, said the problem needs addressing.

“For the first time, all stakeholders of the African electrical market will be able to move forward, based on a solid picture of reality. Now, having measured the impact of counterfeits on African economies and users’ safety, the urgency to act is real,” she said.

Charlie Fripp

Charlie Fripp

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.