13th March , 2017

Reference is made to the article published in The New Vision of Thursday 9th March, 2017, titled “Fake solar batteries flood market”. The writer infers that fake and potentially explosive solar batteries have flooded the Ugandan market.

UNBS would like to bring to the attention of the writer and the general public that indeed UNBS received a complaint on solar batteries imported by ADH Group Uganda. Samples were picked from ADH shops and submitted to UNBS laboratories for analysis. However, the batteries picked from the stores were all below 30 Amps of which the agency does not have the capacity to test.

Because of the inadequate capacity to test the said products, UNBS sent samples to Center for research in Energy and Conservation Makerere (CREEC) for laboratory analysis. However, it was noted that CREEC did not analyze in accordance with the relevant Uganda Standards thus UNBS could not base on the test results from CREEC to make decisions. In the absence of analysis capacity for solar batteries below 30 Amps, UNBS could not determine that the solar batteries were substandard as alleged and the said batteries were released to the owners.

However, UNBS continues to test and monitor the quality of solar batteries on market of capacity of 30 Amps and above. Furthermore, UNBS is looking forward to procuring test equipment for solar batteries of capacity below 30Amps once funds are secured.

It is further stated in the article that ‘the batteries are said to use glass instead of lead.’ UNBS would like to clarify that the standard for solar batteries does not specify the type of material used in construction of batteries and materials like glass, plastic and lead can be used as walls to separate cells in the battery as long as the material used does not take part in transmitting power.

On the issue of Pre export Verification of Conformity (PVoC), the service that was introduced by the government of Uganda purposely to curb the high rate of substandard products that had flooded the Ugandan market but if for any reason the importer does not go through PVoC, they are penalized with 15% surcharge and products inspected at destination.

Finally I call upon consumers not to be complacent when buying goods, there are traders who take advantage of this situation to sell substandard or expired goods/ underweight products. Consumer vigilance is vital in curtailing such malpractices and reporting such incidences to either police or UNBS on the toll free line 0800 133 133 will compel traders who deliberately commit such offences to wither refrain or think twice before doing so.