A survey conducted by African Press Organization(APO) commissioned by Schneider Electric on electrical counterfeiting in Africa has been released. Its purpose was to identify the most counterfeited products and brands in Africa as well as point out recommendations.

 Moreover, it aimed to assess the consequences of electrical counterfeiting on Africa. The survey took place between December 2013 and March 2014 and used eleven African countries; Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Cameroon, Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. The 37 investigators hired by APO contacted several officials and professionals. This is the first survey of its kind to be conducted on such a scale in Africa.

Because electrical standards, brand names and the historical patterns of trade are not similar across all regions in Africa, countries were divided in accordance to linguistic zones to obtain better results. Thus, the survey divided countries into Anglophone and Francophone countries. Once results were obtained however, a comparison of the two linguistic zones was made, and the researchers could then draw general conclusions.
According to the survey, the most counterfeit electrical products in Africa are cables, switches and breakers. Electricians, resellers and officials all confirmed that cables are the most counterfeited electrical item in Africa. Other products that are likely to be counterfeited according to the report are, energy saving bulbs, small motors, pocket radios, remote controllers, DVDs, TVs, high voltage surge protector and LED lighting. In fact, most respondents of the survey noted that all electrical goods in Africa have counterfeit version, especially the smaller devices. In addition, the most counterfeited brands in Africa were; Legrand, Hager, General Electric, Schneider Electric, ABB followed by Crabtree, Siemens, ETNMEM, APC, MK, Tendy, Moeller, Electrium, ETN-Cutler Hammer, Btcino, Lawson, and Bill.

China was identified as the main source of electrical counterfeit goods in Africa; the rest of Asia came in second, followed by Africa, the Middle East and lastly European countries. Africa, the countries that were mentioned to be the main sources of electrical counterfeits were South Arica Angola, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, Angola and a couple others. The reason numerous African countries were mentioned as sources of electrical counterfeits is because the respondents used their own countries as places where counterfeit goods and sold to neighboring countries. The survey noted that with the exception of Nigeria, almost all the countries that import counterfeit electrical goods in Africa are targets of acquiring fake re-exported electrical goods from their neighboring countries. No less than 26 African countries were identified by the respondents to the survey as being target countries with Guinea, Niger, and Ghana being the main targets followed by Cameroon, Sudan and Uganda.

In Africa, a majority of the countries, manufacture assemble and export homemade counterfeit electrical goods, with Senegal, Congo Brazzaville, Guinea noted by the survey as the countries who produce the least counterfeit products. On the contrary, Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria have very high number of these products. The most domestically manufactured products in Africa are wires and cables, and the distributors of these fake products are most commonly street vendors, retailers and individuals. Moreover, some of the infamous black markets known to sell these products were identified; Nyamakima in Kenya, Alaba Market in Nigeria, Sunyani Central Market in Ghana and several others.

The survey indicated that the greatest damage electrical counterfeit caused was to the African economy. Although the survey did not have enough data to generate exact figures, several respondents made estimations about the cost of fake electrical goods in their respective countries. For example, in Kenya, the estimate was, anywhere from 5 million to 30 billion, which is a very general estimate. Thus the data cannot be taken at face value and just serve as an indication of the level of damage these products can cause economies across Africa. Other consequences of counterfeit electrical goods include, loss of property, loss of competitiveness, electrocutions, accidents and death were all consequences mentioned.

Although, official bodies in charge of battling electrical counterfeiting are around in Africa, they do not do a good enough job in combating these products. Some of the well established electrical counterfeiting bodies mentioned were in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya. In better fighting this detrimental trend, several respondents talked about creating stronger campaigns against counterfeiting, strengthening official bodies in conducting relevant seizures, monitoring, market surveys to better fight against the illegal business. Still, in the meantime, for the nonprofessional, a way to recognize these electrical counterfeits is price, labeling typos and misspelled brands.

Honorable Minister of Trade and Industry in Tanzania, who was interviewed for the survey declared that, “only an alliance between manufacturers, authorities and consumers can help curb electrical counterfeiting.”

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