By Elias Hakizimana.
Rwanda marks World Consumers Rights Day 2019 (WCRD) that is celebrated every year March 15.
Nationally, the celebration was the 10th and has taken place at University of Rwanda-Huye Campus in Southern Province with the theme ‘Trusted Smart Products’.
A week before, the country has conducted a campaign on consumer rights that was organised in partnership with entities whose responsibilities reflect on consumer rights. These include the Ministry of Trade and Industries (MINICOM), Rwanda Utility and Regulatory Authority (RURA) and Rwanda Consumers Rights Protection Organisation (ADECOR).
It was first celebrated on March 15, 1983 with the initiative of Consumer International (CI) operating from the United Kingdom. The CI gathers together 200 organisations advocating for consumers’ rights in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Emmanuel Mugabe in charge of business competition and consumer protection in the Ministry of Trade and Industry explained the basic rights of consumers:
“A consumer has different basic rights such as rights to being attended to by a trader, rights to education and getting explanations about the products on market, right to be given the bills, rights to choose the product and of affordable price; and a trader has to expose the tariffs where a consumer can easily have a look at.
“When a consumer’s rights are violated he/she can inform us by a letter and we intervene basing on his/her request that gives us the way forward to know the problem that is on both sides, [consumers and traders], we can solve them at that stage or proceed by regal framework where a consumer can appeal to courts,” Mugabe noted.
Michel Sebera, Permanent Secretary of MINICOM said that it is time for Rwandans to know what they can buy and its benefits.
“They should know their rights and where they can buy what they consume. An emphasis is needed in regal formulation, noting that the government has established a new body dubbed ‘Rwanda Inspection Competition and Consumer Protection (RICA).
Veneranda Mukamurera in charge of consumer protection in RURA called consumers on reporting difficulties and other barriers to their rights like substandard services delivered to them.
“This is like when you are buying a telecommunication product and get a wrong choice because the trader has not given you all information relating to that product. It is his/her (seller/trader) responsibility to give you details of the products and you chose according to the durability of the product and your financial capacity,” she advised consumers.
Damien Ndizeye, Executive Secretary of ADECOR announced that Rwanda has made a tremendous journey in ensuring consumers rights protection comparing to other African countries.
“We collaborate with other organisations advocating for consumer rights. We can ensure that there is a step made in our country when we compare to other countries, especially in digital markets; and we appreciate that we have a law protecting a consumer,” Ndizeye said.
Dismas Hakizimana, a student in 2nd year of Bachelors of Business Administration (BBA) at University of Rwanda (UR-Huye Campus) said that it is meaningful to share such messages with students as they are among the consumers at this digital market.
“A client has rights to ask for explanations on a product so as to be able to know its guarantee, and to fill his buying potential. Myself shop every day, I have rights to ask for explanations or refuse to buy when not convinced, I have rights to ask for price to avoid unnecessary costs. I have also rights to ask about the quality,” Hakizimana said.
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