Local authorities say they intend to crack down on low-quality electronic goods coming into South Africa.

The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) have officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prevent to make sure that electronic goods sold in the country conform to safety standards.

“The influx of low-quality products into the country and the risks they pose to consumers has compelled the SABS and ICASA to review the process of issuing Electromagnetic Interference/ Compatibility (EMI/EMC) Certificates of Compliance (CoCs),” SABS said during a media briefing in Pretoria.

Essentially what that means, is that all non-telecommunications electronic equipment will fall under the mandate of ICASA. They will be subject to conformity assessment procedures so that they meet the quality requirements as stipulated in the South African National Standards.

What type of electronic equipment would fall under this banner? Well, that is still a tricky issue, but from what we have been told it is anything that could possibly cause electro-magnetic interference such as microwave ovens and hairdryers.

All such products that are manufactured here or imported from elsewhere will have to attain a EMI/EMC compliance certification. For imports, a certificate from the local authority in the manufacturer’s country will have to be presented before it will be cleared for sale in the local market.

SABS CEO Dr Boni Mehlomakulu explained that in the past the SABS wasn’t protected under the Consumer Protection Act, “but we had to ensure that we are aligned with current legislation,” she said.

She added that the country’s economy needs to grow, but some low-quality products are taking jobs and cash away from South Africa.

“Our country needs to grow, and the more products that come to our country that unfairly compete, the worse it is for the economy. It is no secret that there are a lot of low-quality products that make it into the market, but the SABS won’t be part of that,” she said.

Through the new processes that have been put in place together with Icasa, Mehlomakulu said that once a Certificate of Compliance has been issued, it can stand by it.

“We have a responsibility for quality assurance, and [that] we can defend the credibility of the product. Any product that come into the country and wasn’t seen by SABS, [we] can say that [we] weren’t involved with that product. But it is costing the country jobs, money and safety. It is all about Quality Assurance,” she concluded.

So in the next couple of weeks when you buy a microwave, expect to see a SABS and ICASA-approved sticker on the back. When you see that, you will know that it won’t interfere with any of your other electronics.

Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.