Standards are an important quality protection and monitoring tool for consumer goods, amongst other things.
They are there to help government ensure that consumers are assured that products sold have been tested and approved for safe and durable usage, and the products in question will bear a seal of approval if they meet set standards.
Standards can be quite useful in the fight against pollution and general environmental damage, in particular standards relating to electronic goods.
Many of the electronic products imported by African countries are manufactured overseas, more often than not, the importing states are not privy to durability and energy consumption testing methods used by overseas manufacturers.
As a result, it is not difficult to find that a country allows substandard imports which either have low durability or consume electricity at a rate higher than is necessary for proper functioning.
For instance, in countries such as Swaziland, South Africa, and Botswana it is not uncommon to find shops that sell cheap DVD players, television sets, mobile stoves and speakers. Many of the brands are not well known, and these products are sold as is with no warranties or guarantees. Equally, it is not uncommon to find as many electronic repair shops swamped with irreparable items bought from the aforementioned shops. The question that government should then ask is “where does this garbage end up eventually”?
Governments of importing countries must thus make necessary efforts to formulate standards that will ensure that de facto garbage is not imported into their territories. Such standards must be supported with strict monitoring controls at all points of entry, be it border posts, harbours, or airports.
If goods are found wanting, they must be shipped back confiscated and shipped back to sender. The governments concerned may also consider blacklisting goods from certain countries notorious for manufacturing substandard products, such that imports of a certain nature are not allowed at all into their territories.
Standards can yield favourable results in keeping environmentally hazardous goods out of the environment.
The demand for cheap products must not be met at the expense of our environment.
It is that simple.
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