Solar dealers decry increase in fakes


Solar equipment dealers have called for concerted efforts to fight counterfeits. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Solar equipment dealers have decried proliferation of counterfeit products in the Kenyan market that have hurt sales.

The Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA) said last week that the fake products have made it difficult for solar companies to get their products off the shelves.

GOGLA East Africa Regional Representative Patrick Tonui said they were working closely with concerned government agencies to find a lasting solution to the matter.

Mr Tonui said while there are standards that guide solar products in the market, the problem remains how to stop counterfeits from entering the Kenyan market. “We need to support and empower the regulatory bodies with the resources and manpower so that they can be able to rein in these phony products through testing and law enforcing,” Mr Tonui said.

“The effect is even greater on consumers who may buy systems that are bogus and after sometimes they break-down or fail to function, hence incurring losses and denting their confidence in solar technology,” he adds.

He said the association was going to roll out consumer awareness programmes to enable people know whether the products that they are buying meet minimum standards.

Generic Energy Head of Sales Jimmy Njai reckoned the increase in number of substandard products had considerably hurt their businesses as sales had significantly tumbled.

“Currently, we have one and a half container of PV solar systems that are lying in our go-downs and we fear they may break-down very soon if they are not bought,” he said.

He added that energy regulator EPRA ought to do more to crack the whip on illegal businesses that operate openly in various parts of Nairobi. The substandard products retail at up to half the price of genuine ones, thus making it difficult for genuine products to compete in terms of pricing.