A debate has been stirred by the alerts and recalls of products by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) due to quality compliance issues. Furthermore, there has been an uproar from manufacturers who depict Kebs as irresponsible and insensitive for taking actions against those whose products have failed the non-compliance tests.
Their concerns are that their brands risk being edged out in a highly competitive market where reputation is critical. Kebs is aware of the role good reputation plays in a business. But Kebs is mandated to first and foremost protect the safety and health of consumers.
Kenyans have witnessed lives lost due to substandard alcoholic drinks, houses collapsing due to design faults and substandard materials, vehicle bodies collapsing during accidents, higher incidences of chronic diseases attributed to toxins among others.
Kenya has a robust manufacturing sector compared to its neighbours. It is one of the four main targets of the government’s priorities, with a focus of increasing its GDP contribution from under nine percent to 15 percent by 2022. To achieve this growth and further, quality assurance would be a key determinant.
Alerts for recall and withdrawal of products are used the world over to protect the consumers. Alerts are issued either voluntarily by the manufacturers or by government agencies. Products are recalled where the manufacturer or a government agency notices non-compliance in the product and the use of such a product by the consumer may cause illness or pose a great risk to the safety of the consumer.
Toyota, an international brand with a high reputation on quality had to recall 5.2 million vehicles for the pedal entrapment/floor mat problem.
In Kenya, manufacturers rarely — if ever, voluntarily without government intervention — recall or withdraw products from the market. This, therefore, puts the responsibility of watching out for the products in the market on government agencies.
Kebs operates a product certification scheme that is anchored on an agreement between the agency and a manufacturer. This agreement — a scheme of supervision and control — requires manufacturers to implement quality assurance measures.
A permit to use the standardisation mark on a product is issued after Kebs has undertaken factory inspection and tested samples of the products. The certified manufacturer is then required to adhere to the certification scheme of supervision and control throughout the validity period of (one year).
Manufacturers are required to adhere to the agreement and specifically ensure their products comply with the requirements of the respective standards. The conditions of the permit require the manufacturers to ensure their products meet the specified standards before they are offered for sale to the consumers.
Retailers are required to ensure that all products they offer to the customers have a standardisation mark. The supplier is also required to provide the retailers with a copy of the valid permit for products they supply. Consumers, on the other hand, are provided with information on product packaging for them to make an informed decision before purchasing any product.
The information provided includes the name of the product, the date of manufacture, date of expiry, batch number, nutritional information (for food products), ingredients, storage conditions, standardization mark permit number, etc. Consumers can verify if the product they are about to purchase has a valid standardization mark. You can send a text with the product’s standardisation mark number to 20023; (e.g. SM#XXXXX to 20023).
Kebs, through its market surveillance department, consistently monitors and tests products to ensure that manufacturers and traders comply with standards.
For the last two quarters our market surveillance team has seized products that have failed to meet the required standards.
The decision to suspend permits and order for the withdrawal of the products from the market is informed by consideration that the products pose a risk to health and safety of the consumers. This measure is necessary to isolate such products and prevent their consumption as is the practice in many countries across the world.
Manufacturers whose permits have been suspended are only required to resume production and sale of products after they have identified and instituted corrective actions. They establish the root cause of the non-compliance and undertake corrective actions to ensure the non-compliance never recurs.
They are also required to test all the products recalled from the market and isolate the non-complying products. Products found not to comply with the requirements of the standard after the recall are destroyed.
Consumers are encouraged to be on the lookout and inform Kebs upon encountering any products suspected to be substandard. Wajibika Na Kebs is a programme that allows the public to report cases of substandard products.
To Wajibika, verify whether the S-Mark permit on your product is valid by sending the code underneath the S-Mark to 20023 (SM#Code) to get product manufacturing details. If the details are different, report to Kebs Toll Free Number 1545. If you are aware of any kind of foul play by a manufacturer, also report those cases to Kebs through the toll-free number.
Njiraini is the Managing Director of Kenya Bureau of Standards.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.
“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.
He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.
The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.
People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.
For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.
Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.
“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.
“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”
According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.
Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans
The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.
Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.
Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options.
This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.
The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.
The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.
The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).
The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.
The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour; Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).
The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.
Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”
He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.