As it appeared in the Daily Nation on March 12th 2019
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu
Are you a consumer? Certainly yes! If you can read this, you are likely to be consuming some product or service. Unfortunately, most of us Kenyans are not aware of our rights as consumers. This is despite the enactment into law of the Consumer Protection Act, 2012 as well as the Competition Act several years ago. Our current Consumer Protection law considers consumer rights as basic human rights. This is outlined in Article 46 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010. In our constitution, consumers have the right to; Goods and services of reasonable quality; Information necessary to enable us gain full benefit from goods and services; Protection of our health, safety and economic interests; and Compensation for loss or injury arising from defects in goods or services. More detailed consumer rights are described in the Consumer Protection Act, 2012. Are you aware of your rights as a consumer?
This week is a good time to reflect on consumer rights. Every year on March 15th, the consumer rights movement leads in marking the World Consumer Rights Day. The movement uses this day to raise global awareness about consumer rights. This year, the theme for the day is ‘Trusted Smart Products’. The day will be used to highlight what consumers want and need from a connected world. In addition, it will draw attention to the importance of putting consumers at the heart of the development of digital products and services. In Africa, Kenya leads on matters consumer protection and there is widespread knowhow on the use of smart technology. Despite this, only a few Kenyan consumers are aware of this year’s World Consumer Rights Day and what it hopes to achieve. The consumer rights movement invites all to join their call for trusted smart products by using the hashtag #BetterDigitalWorld.
In Kenya, many government institutions purport to protect the consumer. These are; The Competition Authority of Kenya; Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS); Anti-counterfeit Agency; Kenya Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (KECOPAC); Department of Weights and Measures among others. These institutions have done little to create awareness on consumer rights. In addition, over the last decade, the activities of consumer rights lobby groups in Kenya have grown. Lobby groups such as Consumer Grassroots Association and Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) have been trying to make their voices heard. Many Kenyans are however not aware about their existence or what they stand for. Others aware of these lobby groups may not necessarily approve of the approach that some lobbyist have taken. To gain traction, these bodies need to invest more in creating awareness about consumer rights
Most customer experience professionals have a keen interest in consumer rights. Having been part of the team that reviewed the Consumer Protection bill before it was enacted into law my interest in consumer rights grew a little deeper. I feel it is important for consumers to know and to defend their rights. It is also equally important for organizations to respect the rights of consumers. Moving into the future, we are likely to see a more robust consumer rights movement in Kenya. Among those likely to drive this movement forward are customer experience professionals and human rights activists who have the interest of the customer at heart. Let us join in the consumer rights conversation on March 15th and learn about our rights.
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy