Frequently Asked Question


Consumer protection Policy

What does it mean for consumers?

The main objective of the National Consumer Protection Policy is to encourage both domestic and international consumers to invest and participate in the economic growth and prosperity of Namibia.
As such, consumer protection laws are designed to increase the transparency of consumer market transactions and thus decrease the incentives for engaging in deceptive or unfair practices. If effectively enforced, these laws can increase the confidence of consumers, sellers and investors in the openness and fairness of consumer markets, and thus increase economic activity in these markets. This policy aims to enhance consumer rights through access to comprehensive information of the products and services offered while also advocating for ethical behavior in advertised products and services. 

The principle and concept of consumer protection is to protect consumer through several rights. The 8 UN Consumer Rights Guidelines are:
· Right to satisfaction of basic needs;
· Right to safety;
· Right to be informed;
· Right to choose;
· Right to be heard;
· Right to redress;
· Right to consumer education; and
· Right to a healthy and sustainable environment

What prompted government to come up with such a policy?

The need for legislation and an enabling policy framework to address unfair commercial practices affecting businesses and consumers, including marketing tactics, advertising campaigns, sales promotions and other commercial practices directed at influencing consumer decisions in the marketplace.  
The Government considers that the effective protection of consumer rights is a vital component for the realization of Vision 2030 and, therefore, ranks high on the agenda of the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development.
The need to protect consumers arises from the imbalanced relationship between the consumers and the suppliers. It is evident that suppliers are in a dominant position. The need to protect consumers is also based on the fact that consumers may have the necessary information to exercise their choices, but, factors such as the level of literacy and level of affordability may hinder consumers to make uninformed choices. Therefore, it is the duty of government to ensure that products selected by consumers are safe and of a certain standard and quality. Conclusively, Government seeks to provide assistance to final consumers in their market transactions.

How would you describe the status quo of consumer’s being treated by suppliers and business owners?

Although no specific information is available with respect to the above question, it is an undisputed fact that some products and services offered by some suppliers are of sub-standards, hence this policy aims to address the said shortfall, with the purpose of ensuring that consumers gets value for their money.

 Consumer has the right to basic goods and services which guarantee survival, the right to be protected against dishonest or misleading advertising or labelling, the right to choose products and services at competitive prices with an assurance of satisfactory quality, amongst a wide array of rights which are unfortunately unknown to the masses, further highlighting the importance of consumer protection to the economy and hence the need for consumers to be protected.

How many cases of abuse or unfair treatment did the ministry register over the past three years and how many how been solved?

None, as there is no law or regulation in place to act to any complaint.

Which industry or sector is more common when it comes to abusing consumers?

In light of the fact that this is a new policy as it was recently approved by Cabinet, a study is yet to be undertaken to establish the sector/s that abuses consumers. However with the operationalization of the policy, it shall now make it easier for the ministry to establish which sector shall receive most complaints from consumers with respect to their products and services.   

How will the new policy curtain some of the ill treatment by business owners?

The consumer protection laws are designed to increase the transparency of consumer market transactions and thus decrease the incentives for engaging in deceptive or unfair practices. If effectively enforced, these laws can increase the confidence of consumers, sellers and investors in the openness and fairness of consumer markets, and thus increase economic activity in these markets.

Consumer Protection approaches markets from the demand side ensuring that consumers are able to exercise intelligently and efficiently the choices that competition provides. The policy is designed to prevent businesses that engage in fraud or specified unfair practices from gaining an advantage over competitors and provide additional protection for the weak which has both direct and indirect impacts on the consumer.

What are some of the punitive measures will the policy entail?

The policy does in its current form does not stipulate punitive measures, however the punitive measures will be provided for in the Act and Regulations.

When can the nation expect such a policy to come into force?

The Consumer Protection Policy comes into force once it is approved by Parliament. Note that a policy is only a framework to guide the Act and regulation (legal framework).

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© Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development 2013