11 July 2017

Ghana: Making Profits At the Expense of Ghanaian Consumers

Photo: Ofeibea Quist-Arcton/allAfrica.com
A market in Ghana.

The aim of every business is to make profit. To attain this goal, some businesses go to the extent of cutting corners: selling nearly expired goods, pushing fake products into the market, rendering poor services or charging for services not rendered.

For this reason, adverts in the Ghanaian media - by computer hardware and car manufacturers, pharmaceutical and smartphone companies - frequently highlight how to identify originals of their products and where to purchase them.

Agencies to regulate operators in various sectors of the economy were established by law to protect the interest of consumers. Such agencies include the Consumers' Protection Agency, Food and Drugs Board, Ghana Standards Authority, among others.

The regulatory agencies are empowered, inter alia, "to provide speedy redress to consumers" complaints through negotiations, mediation and conciliations; seek ways and means of removing or eliminating from the market hazardous products and causing offenders to replace such products with safer and more appropriate alternatives.

It is also to publish from time to time list of products whose consumption and sale have been banned, withdrawn, severally restricted or not approved by the government or foreign governments; cause an offending company, firm, trade, association or individual to protect, compensate, provide relief and safeguards to injured consumers or communities from adverse effects of technologies that are inherently harmful, injurious, violent or highly hazardous; organise and undertake campaigns and other forms of activities that will lead to increased public consumer awareness."

Regrettably, in spite of all this, the Ghanaian consumer is daily cheated with impunity and has to bear the brunt - financial and bodily - of fake, substandard and adulterated products, poor service delivery, hidden charges, etc. Most agencies are not doing anything, it seems.

The problem, however, is often lack of awareness on the part of the consumers. Many consumers do not even know the agencies responsible for protecting their rights. When they are aware, they doubt the ability of the agencies to truly protect their interests. Several trends necessitate a change of tack.

Consumers should be made to know they have a right to safety, to information, to choose and to be heard. Ghana's consumer class is sizeable and growing.

Against this background, Business Day encourages all regulatory agencies to protect consumers to embark on campaigns to sensitise people on their rights and where and how to channel their complaints whenever they are short-changed.


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