Energy Commission seeks legal backing to seize fake electrical products

In a bid to rid the market of substandard and unlicensed electrical products, the Energy Commission has said it plans to present a bill to Parliament, which will give it powers to clean the market of illegal products.

The commission, which is the technical regulator of the electricity sector, wants to be able to, among other things, punish persons involved in import/handling of fake and unlicensed electrical products, as well as the power to go into the market and confiscate.

“There is a draft bill which will be put before Parliament to allow us to go into the markets and seize some of these fake products. But whiles we are working on that we are relying on those we have certified (certified electricians) to use the correct materials,” said Solomon Sarpong, Principal Programmes Officer at the commission.

He said this during a regional stakeholder conference for the Certified Electrical Wiring Professionals (CEWP) programme, in Accra.

His comments come in the wake of a recent survey by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), which revealed that more than 70 percent of electrical cables on the market are below safety and quality parameters.

“About three weeks ago, we carried out a survey in Accra, Kumasi and Tamale. We bought and tested about 58 different type of cables and out of this, only seven passed all the critical parameters. Out of the seven, two of them are locally manufactured cables and the other five are imported,” a standards officer at GSA, Francis Mensah Akpaloo, told the B&FT.

Currently, the Energy Commission does not have the powers prosecute and seize products that do not meet safety requirements.

The bill, if pass into law, will therefore give it authority to take action against persons caught dealing in substandard and unlicensed electrical products.

Meanwhile, checks from the market show that, whereas locally made cables cost around GH¢130 to GH¢240 per coil, imported ones are sold for between GH¢30 and GH¢70.

This, officials of the regulatory agencies say, points to the fact that a lot of the imported ones are fake.

The use of substandard products come with several risks such as electrocution, fire outbreaks and unstable flow of current.

“You have invested so much into your facility; so, don’t allow fake electrical products or a quack electrician to burn down your building,” Mr. Sarpong, who is in charge of the commission’s electrician training programme, cautioned.

CEWP programme implementation

The Certified Electrical Wiring Professionals (CEWP) training programme, which begun in 2013 as part of the Electrical Wiring Regulations, 2011, (L.I. 2008), seeks to guide persons who engage in electrical wiring and installation in the country through regulation.

Following the award of certificates to over 5,000 electricians nationwide, full implementation of the law begun last October.

It requires that only persons certified by the commission undertake electrical wiring and installation before the facility can be connected to electricity.

“The law requires that if someone violates its provisions, the person can be taken to court where a penalty of 250 units, or two years imprisonment or both can be applied.

If the work is done by an uncertified electrician, the work would be inspected and tested by someone who is certified before electricity will be extended to the facility,” Mr. Sarpong further explained.

To ensure smooth implementation, the commission is collaborating with the Electricity Company of Ghana, as well as the security agencies.

“We also started inspection of existing public facilities which are 10 years old and above. Those that meet our criteria will be given certificate of compliance from the commission. Facilities which do not meet the criteria will be disconnected.

We have issued a public notice to all these facilities and we are giving them time to comply. Some have complied already, others have not. But beginning January next year, we will start with the full implementation; we will be visiting these hotels and restaurants for inspection and issuance of certificates. Those that do not meet the safety criteria will be disconnected and given time to correct the anomalies before being reconnected,” he stated.