A view of Luthuli Avenue and Munyu Rd in Nairobi many shops here sell fake products

How fake electronics are crippling our Kenyan economy

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This past week I have been listening to an Ad on radio by Philips about how fakes are crippling our economy. The Ad went on about to encourage you not to buy fakes. I could not agree more and the reason I am writing this post is to open your eyes and see how fake electronics are a danger to life, also environment and our economy. It starts with you; do not buy fakes at all. Now this is how fakes are damaging our economy, not only in Kenya but everywhere in the world. By the way the featured image does not in any way insinuate that tecno products are fake. In fact tecno produces quality smartphones for the common mwananchi who cannot afford high end smartphones.

Fakes do not conform to the standards

This is the sole reason why they are smuggled. Fakes are built with cost savings in mind only, so they use the bare essentials for materials with no safety standards at all. I have seen extension cords that do not use copper as the conductor and have a very thick insulation as well to fool you that the conductors (wires) used inside are thick as well.

Danger to life and property

Fake extensions and iron boxes can overheat and cause a fire because of their nonexistent safety standards. Most definitely there is no electrical manufacturer who can sell a 2 pin plug electrical appliance with exposed metal parts. I mean without a ground pin. Examples of Electrical appliances that must have 3 pin plugs are cookers, refrigerators, water dispensers, washing machines and air conditioners. By the way do not let small children play with spoilt unworking rechargeable torches. The battery can explode if mishandled and the cheap plastic chemicals can cause brain and behaviour problems in infants and young children. For more on this read How enviromental exposure may affect your child and PVC, the poison plastic

Fakes are cheap and cheap is expensive

Picture the following common item that you, your family and neighbours own and answer the questions that follow. The fake extension cord! How many electrical extension cords have you bought over this past year? How many ports are still working on the most recent extension cord you bought? Have you ever seen an extension cord melting when an iron box or cooker is connected? If not, then wish that you will survive the experience.

If such an extension were to burn down your house, then the phrase cheap is expensive is very clear. We have all seen in the news of an electrical fire burning down huge sections of slums. Now instead of paying school fees and building the economy, the affected families start to arrange for burial expenses and big medical bills.

 Fakes are a Danger to the environment

Because fakes do not conform to any standards and do not last long, they end up in the landfill very fast. The best example is the 100 bob rechargeable torch. They inject into the environment dangerous levels of Lithium, Lead and mercury which are classified as heavy metals. Read more here Hazardous substances in e waste to learn of the dangers e waste poses both to humans and the environment we live in. Because of the e waste problem my next post will tell you hoe to get rid of e waste and make some cash out of it in the process.

 Importers distributors and sellers and of fakes do not pay tax

Most fake products not only electronics usually enter the Kenyan borders illegally. They must enter the country illegally because they cannot meet the standards set by KEBS. Kulipa Ushuru ni Kujitegemea, this is Swahili tagline of Kenya revenue authority. For our country to develop its citizens and businesses must pay tax. Ironically are these the same people who complain of the government misusing their tax money.

These are just but a few ways how fakes are damaging our economy. The examples above concern electricity alone. Now think of fake motor vehicle spare parts, fake drugs and medical equipment and anything else. The dangers are very real and increased by corrupt officials and citizens. Next time you buy anything ask yourself are you contributing towards building our Kenyan economy or are you harming it?

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