Location: Plot M217 Nakawa Industrial Area, Kampala, Uganda
Address: P.O.Box 6329, Kampala, Uganda
Boards of government bodies inefficient, says UNBS
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has said it is embarking on training all board members of government institutions to equip them with modern management standards to improve efficiency.While addressing journalists, Ms Patricia Ejalu, the deputy executive director UNBS, said the ISO 9001 management standards provide modern standards which the board members should acquaint themselves with so as to acquire skills to provide strategic leadership and policies to the institutions they supervise.This, she said, ensures their sustainability and profitability.“The efficiency of a board is seen from the services or products of the company it supervises. Such a company does not have to struggle for customers because its services or products speak for themselves,” she saidMs Ejalu said if board members are equipped with such skills, the companies they supervise would reduce losses because of the management systems they would have set..Read more
UNBS seizes substandard cosmetics, iron sheets
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has impounded 80 cartons of cosmetics and 300 pieces of substandard iron sheets from the market in an operation conducted in the capital Kampala.According to a statement released by UNBS, the cosmetic products had prohibited substances including mercury and hydroquinone contrary to the Uganda Standards in the protection of public health.“Cosmetic products with Mercury and Hydroquinone are cancerous, they weaken internal organs such as kidney, liver, and they cause skin discoloration, reduction in the skin’s resistance to bacterial and fungal infections among others,” the statement read in part.The products which included White Secrete Lightening Body Lotion, Bio Perfect Light, Lemon Clear, and Skin Light brands, are believed to have been imported from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Togo, and Ivory Coast through the Kasese border post of Mpondwe and Bunagana in Kisoro. Read more
UNBS: Local manufactures ask UNBS for incentives
“UNBS should also work together with the Uganda Revenue Authority to provide tax incentives to the manufactures” he said.Odido said in order for the local products to achieve competitiveness in the regional market they must follow the simple things like being organized, hygienic as well as making sure the environment where products are packaged is clean saying this is what standardization means.“A lot of us get very concerned when we hear we have to meet UNBS standards we start thinking of European standards which is not the case,” Odido explained.Speaking during the Standards Business Seminar Odido asked the bureau to put more of their staffs in the field to get products that are substandard off the markets. She also asked small scale manufactures to embrace standardization of their products. Read more
UNBS bans cosmetics containing mercury
Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has banned the importation and selling of cosmetics containing hydroquinone and mercury ingredients. The list of products includes more than 100 products in the form of lotions, soap and skin creams that have been banned. UNBS, according to Mr Robert Luyombya, the agency’s public relations officer, reached the decision after several round table discussions involving key stakeholders, including Ministry of Trade, Kampala City Traders Association and cosmetic traders, which deliberated on the dangers of the products. The discussions, Mr Luyombya said, are part of ongoing efforts that seek to wipe substandard cosmetics on the Uganda market.“We will be conducting inspection effective next month to ensure that none of the products with these ingredients is imported. If we find any on the market we shall confiscate them,” he said. Read more
UNBS rolls out e-verification service to combat counterfeits
Consumers will soon be able to electronically verify whether the products they are about to buy are genuine, of good and standardised quality or not.This follows a move by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to roll out a phone powered traceability and e-verification service called e-tag to combat the prevalence of counterfeit products on the Ugandan market.Using this product, customers will be able to detect forgeries of labels by sending the digits of the labels to code 141. The code will be redirected to the centralised computer system where it will be verified. This follows the successful pilot launch where the body partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture to kick-start the e-verification of goods in the agriculture sector. Read more
UNBS: Toll free line for counterfeits during festive season
Consumers and whistle-blowers will be able to report traders selling counterfeit products during this festive season using a toll free line which the Uganda National Bureau of standard has established.The UNBS executive director, Dr Ben Mayindo said that during festival seasons, they receive so many complaints about counterfeits products on the market so this time people with complaints will be reporting directly to his office using the toll free line (0800133133) Mayindo said that the most counterfeited products during this season are bread, electrical, baby toys, drinks, cosmetics, batteries, radios and packaged foods.
“It is that time when everyone is running around to shop, however we are calling upon the public to take their time while shopping because they are traders who want to make a killing by selling sub standards goods. We are not going to close our offices, in case of any complaint, just call the toll free line we shall help you,” said Mayindo. Read more
UNBS gets tough on product labelling language
Products labelled in unfamiliar languages pose health risks to consumers, an official from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has said.While conducting an operation on substandard products to rid Nakawa market of substandard products, Mr Jameson Ssewanyana, a UNBS surveillance officer, said certain consumers cannot read, interpret and understand some languages. He said this poses a health risk, especially when a consumer is unable to tell whether the product is of quality or not because of language.“Labelling goods in foreign languages is common with pre-packaged products yet the labelling of all pre-packaged products is governed by one Uganda standard,” he said. Read more
Deputy executive director,Patricia Ejalu: UNBS cautions on standards
The Uganda Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has cautioned local manufacturers against thinking that standards were about mere getting product certificates from UNBS. Products certification involves the issuance of a certificate or mark (or both) to demonstrate that a specific product meets a defined set of requirements such as safety, fitness for use and/or interchangeability characteristics for that product, usually specified in a standard."Standards are not about certificates. There are processes to go through before you get a standard," Patricia Ejalu, the UNBS deputy executive director said. Ejalu said this during a conference on enhancing local participation in the petroleum development. The function was organized by UNBS in collaboration with the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment. The function took place at Protea Hotel, Kampala. Ejalu said certification refers to the confirmation of certain characteristics of a product, person, or an organization. Read more
UNBS: Traders agree to end import of cancer-risky cosmetics
Uganda National Bureau of Standards and traders dealing in cosmetics have agreed to stop the importation and distribution of cosmetics that contain mercury and hydroquinone suspected to cause skin cancer.Both parties met at the Ministry of Trade and signed a communique in which they agreed on six steps to ensure cosmetics with deadly substances are removed from the market.“All cosmetics products containing prohibited substances, especially hydroquinone and mercury; and expired products are banned from importation, distribution, sale and use in Uganda. All importers shall follow the Pre-Verification for Conformity to Standards (PVoC),” a communique reads in part.The communique was signed by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Trade, Ambassador Julius Onen, and the cosmetics traders and dealers at the ministry headquarters in Kampala. Hydroquinone and mercury are skin-bleaching agents which were banned because of their numerous health effects on humans. Read more
UNBS, SEATINI to promote maize standards
THE Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Southern and Eastern African Trade, Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI) Uganda to fast track the development of a standard for sesame (commonly known as sim-sim) and implementation of the EAC maize standard. The partnership will involve the conducting of sensitization drives, training and capacity building workshops, research and advocacy. “Uganda has the potential to trade our way out of poverty using agriculture. Maize is one of those products. Small scale produce the maize, but issues of standard are not common at that level throughout the value chain, the people who produce, store, transport, and mill the maize,” said Jane Nalunga, the Country Director of SEATINI Uganda at the signing of the agreement at UNBS offices at Bweyogerere.Read more
UNBS: Ugandans cautioned of fake, dirty soft drinks on market
As the Uganda National Bureau of standards (UNBS) steps up efforts to increase compliance to standards, a section of manufactures of juice are still not conforming to the required procedures and standards.To try and encourage them to conform, the executive director of UNBS, Dr. Ben Manyindo has asked them to start putting into practice the required standards before enforcement of the recently amended law can be effected.According to the law, any body found selling dirty or goods which do not meet the required standard will have their premises closed or pay a fine of sh5m or imprisonment. "But before we enforce it we are engaging them, explain to them again the required standards and procedures such that when we move to enforce, they will be aware of what we are looking for," said Manyindo said.He was addressing juice makers, producer, importers and traders, supermarket operators among others on the requirements in the production of juice and water and also to identify challenges limiting juice makers from producing quality juices.Read more
UNBS warns consumers on fake goods
Consumers have been warned to watch out against fake and expired goods that always flood the market during the festive season. Most of these goods, especially soft drinks and food stuffs, are counterfeits or expired, said Dr. Ben Manyindo, the executive director, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS). He said unscrupulous traders always want to take advantage of the season’s excitement to dump their dangerous goods onto the market. He advised consumers to carefully scrutinise goods before buying, especially the cheapest ones, saying they are mostly sold in downtown Kampala markets and by hawkers. Manyindo advised consumers to look for the UNBS Q Mark (Quality Mark) and S Mark for locally manufactured goods to ensure they have been certified by UNBS. He also said they could report suspicious products to UNBS offices or call on a toll-free line 0800133133. He advised consumers to buy goods from a place where one can go back in case one gets a problem with the item. Read more
UNBS: Food experts meet in Kampala over safety, trade standards
Global leaders from Codex Alimentarius member states are meeting in Kampala to discuss food hygiene, standards and best practices for food trade.The Codex Alimentarius is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety.Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, Dr Ben Manyindo, the executive director Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), said: “We are coming together under Codex to consider international standards in food for purposes of protecting the consumers and for fair food trade. We want to discuss the food safety challenges and how to implement the standards in various countries.” Read more
UNBS: Kigozi urges companies on quality
Former Uganda Investment Authority executive director Maggie Kigozi has urged local manufacturers to commit themselves to producing high quality products.She said this will see them thrive in the face of competition from Kenyan and Ethiopian products among others that have been propelled by the ideals of the Common Market for East and Central Africa (Comesa) Free Trade Area.Speaking as chief guest at the second National Quality Gala organised by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) in Kampala, Ms Kigozi warned manufacturers that they are dealing with a consumer market that understands the quality of what they purchase and consume.She said: “The consumers have changed; you are now producing for a largely middle class people who know what they want. They critically examine products before buying them because they want to consume particular amounts of nutrients. In the past, you would get away with such things but this is gone and you should be very much concerned.” Read more
Traders cheating customers - UNBS
Unscrupulous traders are altering domestic weighing scales in their business with an intention of cheating unsuspecting consumers, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has said. According to UNBS, the domestic weighing scales in use include the Hanson, Globe and Five-goat scales that fall under class four. Those approved for trading purposes fall under class three. “Weighing scales in class four are easily manipulated even in front of the customer without detection, while class three can only be adjusted using pliers and screw drivers,” said Agatha Atukunda, the inspector of Weights and Measures at UNBS. Atukunda further explained that only weights under class three are recommended for trade because they are not easily manipulated. She noted that some traders even cut out part of weighing stones and fill the void with lighter substances so that they can cheat unsuspecting customers. Read more
UNBS: Consumers cautioned on rise in adulterated fuel
We have seen an increase in adulterated fuel in the market, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) head of Fuel Quality and Monitoring, Mr Peter Kitimbo, has said.However, according to him, the tendency by some fuel dealers to adulterate fuel, particularly diesel, is now reducing following the standard body’s crackdown.Speaking in a sideline interview at a workshop bringing together the fuel industry players and the regulators—UNBS and the Ministry of Energy, Mr Kitimbo said the industry saw an upward trend of adulterated fuel on the market.This is worrying he said, because the compliance has been nearly 100 percent. The good news though is that the standard body has since increased surveillance which includes spot checks and testing, a move that is already bearing results. Read more
MOE: Govt to close stations selling adulterated fuel, says official
Government will close stations involved in selling adulterated fuel, a Ministry of Energy official has said.Rev Frank Tukwasibwe, the Commissioner of Petroleum Supply Department, said such a measure together with sensitisation of customers on quality fuel will help reduce adulteration levels in country.“We are planning to publicise names of fuel stations and if a certain station is named consistently, then we will be compelled to close it,” he said while closing the quality fuel campaign in Kampala.He said the Energy ministry and Uganda National Bureau of Standard (UNBS) will first publicise the names of those fuel stations, give them a grace period to sort themselves out and if they do not comply with quality standards, they will be closed. Read more
UNBS Rises Against Fuel Adulteration
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) in conjunction with the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives has launched the fuel quantity and quality of fuel Awareness, an activity that is part of UNBS’ public engagements as they celebrate 25 years of service to Ugandans.Speaking to journalists at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, UNBS Public Relations Officer, Maggie Lukowe noted that the government of Uganda started the Fuel Marking and Monitoring Programme (FMP) in 2009 in a bid to curb the vice of fuel adulteration that was threatening fuel consumers in the country.“Under this arrangement, all fuel products destined for the Ugandan market have to be marked with a specialized color at the customs point of entry into the country to distinguish it as meeting the fuel standards required,” Lukowe explained. Read more
UNBS: AGOA failure blamed on private sector
Ugandan traders’ failure to exploit the huge American market under AGOA agreement is due to the private sector’s failure to produce enough and good quality products, an official has said.Ms Susan Muhwezi, the presidential adviser on African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Trade, said that right from its inception, the well-intended programme was messed up by its initiators who failed to provide production and transport linkages that would enable the country sustain production to feed the readily available market.“This programme was very good but there are no backward linkages. How many farmers are adding value to products, what is the transport like and the budget to this office (AGOA)? Do you want traders to transport in briefcases? Ms Muhwezi asked.Ms Muhwezi’ made the remarks at the launch of the African Women Entrepreneurship programme (AWEP) meant to provide mentorship, business linkages, encourage intra-Africa trade and also bring on board Uganda National Bureau of Standard for quality assurance.Read more
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde: Local industries under fire for not using homegrown supplies
Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde has criticised local industries that shun homegrown raw material in favour of imported ones.She said the tendency does not only discourage local suppliers from large scale production but also hurts the economy.Singling out Britania Industries, Ms Kyambadde said the industry is doing the country and the producers a disservice, given that local suppliers put in a lot of time and resources only to have their produces ignored in favour of imported raw materials.According to a statement issued by the Ministry of Trade last week, Ms Kyambadde while touring Britania Industries, expressed discontent over the industry’s rejection of the local fruits in the production of its juice. Ms Kyambadde, together with the managing director of Uganda National Bureau of Standards, Dr Ben Manyindo, were taken around the factory recently, where they discovered that the collection centre for fresh fruits had been dormant for quite some time, yet this is a season for fruits in the country. Read more
UNBS to inspect imported vehicles
USED vehicles in transit to Uganda and those within the country are to be inspected by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) after paying inspection fees but a penalty will not apply. The agreement was reached at in a meeting between car importers and the ministry of trade, according to the UNBS’s executive director, Dr. Ben Manyindo. However pre-inspection continues for those vehicles that don’t fall under any of the above time frames, and becomes mandatory effective 1stJune, 2014, explained Manyindo. “Our inspectors will be at border to verify the necessary documents such that the agreement is not breached such that effective 1st June, where it will be mandatory to have all goods pre-inspected at the point of origin,” explained Manyindo. Manyindo revealed this while meeting the Indian business community under the Indian Association of Uganda in Wandegeya. Read more
Uganda's aviation business is booming - CAA
The volume of flights, passengers and cargo, according to data from Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Entebbe International Airport are on a steady increase. Statistics show that there were 1.23 million international arrivals compared with 1.08 million passengers in 2011.This shows an increase of 15 percent in cargo volumes, with 55,908 tonnes handled last year compared with 48,636 tonnes registered in 2011. CAA spokesperson, Ignie Igunduura, attributes the increase in passenger and cargo traffic at Entebbe to improved economic performance, political stability, the discovery of oil and gas in the country.“Aviation will never be the same as more investors seek business opportunities in the country due to macro economic stability,” asserted Igundura. This comes in the wake of Uganda’s average annual inflation rate for the 2012 calendar year slowing down to 14 percent compared with 18.7 percent in 2011, according to the Uganda National Bureau of Statistics. Read more
Dangerous cosmetics flood market, UNBS warns
The obsession with fair skin among several women may put them at risk of irreversible skin damages, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has warned.UNBS has warned consumers against buying and using cosmetic products with hydroquinone ingredient, saying it does not only damage the skin, but also causes cancer among other severe irreversible complications.In a meeting between Indian companies and UNBS, organised by the Indian Association in Uganda last week, several complaints, among them influx of dangerous cosmetics in the market, was brought to the attention of the standards body. Members of the association, some of whom are dealers or makers of cosmetics, say they are unable to break even given the influx of the cheap products in the market, particularly in downtown markets of Kikuubo, Owino and Shauri Yako, among others. Read more
Car Business Resumes After UNBS Deal
Importers of used cars in the country have agreed to resume normal business following extensive discussions with officials from Uganda National Bureau of Standards [UNBS] and Ministry of Trade, over implementation of Pre- Importation Verification of Conformity [PIVOC] programme. The traders a couple of weeks ago went on rampage and closed down their warehouses in protest of what they termed as exorbitant charges by the three companies contracted by UNBS to test the quality of the cars before being shipped to Uganda. The companies are Japan East Africa Automobile, a Japanese firm, Kilimanjaro based in the United Arab Emirates and Javic; whose work is to test the road worthiness of cars imported in Uganda. The traders under their umbrella union Used Car Association of Uganda (UACU) told press that they were paying at least $140 on inspection fees in Japan for each vehicle and as much as 15 percent of the total cost of the car, insurance and freight with UNBS inspectors. The traders were invited to dialogue with the Ministry and Bureau officials at UNBS offices, to devise the way forward. Read more
UNBS, trade ministry promote quality goods
The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives in collaboration with the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has started implementing the quality infrastructure and standards programme.The five-year programme that started in 2010 is designed to promote the use of quality infrastructure and standards to improve the competitiveness of Uganda’s products, processes and service delivery systems in domestic, regional and international markets.The state minister of trade, James Mutende, said the programme has enabled the ministry and UNBS to improve the quality and standards of infrastructure in country.“Through this programme, we are trying to strengthen the legal and regulatory framework, capacity building and institutional collaboration in order to tackle the challenges of low competitiveness for Uganda products and menace of substandard goods on our market,” Mutende said. Read more
UNBS: Car dealers protest inspection fee
Dealers in used cars have protested the amount of money that Uganda National Bureau Standards (UNBS) wants them to pay as a fee for inspecting vehicles before being shipped here.According to the used car importers, the minimum of $300 (Shs769,000) for each inspection was not only unilaterally arrived at but its enforcement will see the cost of doing business increase.The importers are required to pay the fee to Japan Export Vehicle Inspection Center (JEVIC), a company contracted by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, to do the pre-inspection. This, according to the used car dealers, means the cost of a vehicle will increase by a minimum of Shs 1 million and in some cases more, making it difficult for a consumer to afford and for them to keep in business. Read more
Used car importers protest PVoC fees
Used car importers have closed their businesses and locked their offices protesting against sections of the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVoC) program by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).Under the PVoC scheme that came into effect late last year, imported used motor vehicles are supposed to be tested by any of the three contracted quality assessment firms. UNBS contracted the services of Japan East Africa Automobile, a Japanese firm, Jabal Kilimanjaro based in the United Arab Emirates and Javic to test the road worthiness of cars imported in Uganda.There was tension on Monday at almost all car depots within the Kyambogo closed business and offices and rejected buyers, condemning UNBS for what they referred to as ‘unfair’ fees. Read more
UNBS Extols Shell Over Quality Assurance
The Executive Director of National Bureau of Standards, Dr Ben Manyindo, has praised Vivo Energy, the company that distributes and markets Shell fuels and lubricants, for its proactive approach to quality assurance. The revelation was made during the launch of Uganda’s first mobile fuel testing laboratory at Shell Lugogo today by Vivo Energy.“The mobile fuel testing laboratory greatly enhances the work that Vivo Energy is already doing and provides additional support to the work UNBS is also doing with our mobile vans,” said Manyindo.“Vivo Energy works in partnership with us to offer support; they have also opened up their laboratory for us to conduct further tests whenever the need arises. Apart from the UNBS lab, Vivo Energy is the only oil company with a modern fuel testing lab in the country,” he noted. Read more
UNBS Under Fire Over Failed Standards Maintenance
Local entrepreneurs dealing on motor mechanics and home appliances repairing have come out to challenge the Uganda National Bureau of standards (UNBS) on what they termed as sheer incompetence in enforcing standards of spare equipment being imported into country. While the body watched reluctantly, they said, these fake products were relentlessly costing them their reputation, customers and resources. Mr Yiga Martin, the Chairman Uganda Technicians and Information Technology Association, told Chimpreports on Thursday that UNBS critically lacked the aptitude and equipment to sieve out substandard mechanical repair equipment, especially for modern appliances like LCD television sets, as well as car parts. "We are buying brand new pistons out there only to run in the engine for 20 minutes before collapsing," he told us. "We inject in a lot of money to purchase this equipment and we end up losing it, along with the trust of our customers.” He further blamed UNBS for working in isolation in detecting fake products, yet the highly experienced mechanists in town could help in identifying the fake products. Read more
Oil, gas production regulations in offing
The Ministry of Energy and the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) have put up a committee that will develop standards and regulations meant to govern the oil and gas production phase expected to start in 2018.Speaking during the inauguration workshop of the technical committee on petroleum yesterday, Energy minister Irene Muloni said the committee will be tasked to among others develop standards that are acceptable globally. Headed by Dr Bernard Kariko Buhwezi, a lecturer at the Faculty of Engineering Makerere University, the committee is expected to start operations immediately. Environmental impact She said the standards that will be developed by the committee of more than 30 people, will focus mainly around areas such as safety, security, health and environment in the oil and gas sector. Read more.
Products conforming to standards will be issued with quality marks.
Goods bearing a quality standards mark from any of the five East African partner states will now be allowed to be traded freely.This follows the East African Community issuance of a set of regulations to enhance the operationalisation of the regional standardisation.The regulations also known as the Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing Act (SQMT) of 2006, were earlier approved by the Council of Ministers in November, 2013 and are geared towards easing trade.According to a communication issued to the Daily Monitor, the regulations were issued in line with Article 6 of the Protocol on Establishment of the EAC Common Market, with reference to Free Movement of Goods.“The regulations will facilitate the issuance of quality marks on products conforming to regional and international standards and provide consumer confidence of the products traded in the region,” the communication noted. Read more
UNBS: New standards to spur horticulture trade
New standards have been formulated to bolster Uganda’s Horticultural competitiveness on the international market.Uganda National Bureau of Standards with support from the Agricultural Business Initiative Trust- aBi Trust has developed three key standards in support of agribusiness.The standards are mainly designed for horticultural products and coffee, which are rated as high income earners.Speaking to Prosper Magazine, the Executive Director UNBS said: “The new standards are geared towards enhancing trade competitiveness for Uganda’s export products at the global market”. Read more
Certify your products, UNBS tells local firms
At least 90 per cent of locally manufactured goods in retail shops are not certified by Uganda National Bureau of Standard (UNBS), an official has revealed.
According to standards body deputy executive director in charge of management services David Livingstone Elibu, until the Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) begin to certify their products, it will be hard for them not to only penetrate the East Africa Community (EAC) market, but also win trust of both the local and regional markets. Read more
UNBS: Traders to pay 0.5% for PVoC - Ejal
Traders who import goods outside of the EAC will pay 0.5% of the goods’ cost for PVoC, which will be carried out before goods reach Uganda. Patricia Ejalu, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards deputy executive director says the move will help save the traders the expenses of having a backlog of goods at the entry points waiting to be verified. Read more
The 3rd Uganda-UK Trade & Investment Forum is hosted on the 14 September in London. For the UK/Investor wishing to invest in Uganda means producing goods that meets the standards set by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) that carries a mandate to effect the quality and coordinate standards of various goods & general consumables. It also oversees the fair trade, promote the local industries and protect the consumers.
Our director/editor, Milly Kalyabe, met the Deputy Executive Director – Technical Operations, Mrs Patricia Ejalu, who explained the role of UNBS, the set standards and most importantly the problem of substandard goods in the market that could threaten the consumers and the industry alike - locally and regionally.
Introduction of PVoC
The Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVOC) programme was put in place to promote fair trade and protect the health and safety of our consumers by substantially reducing the importation of substandard products into Uganda. In this program, which resumed on the 1st June 2013, all goods that fall under the Compulsory Uganda Standards are inspected in the country of origin or export.
Uganda is mainly an importing country. Before the introduction of the Pre-export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) scheme, most resources were spent on checking the quality of the imported goods. Since PVoC requires the imported goods to be inspected in the country of its origin and the cost paid by the exporter, resources can now be re-directed to monitor the local situation through audits, surveillance inspections and testing as well as assist, educate & train the local producers to improve their products to meet the required standards.
‘Q’ & ‘S’ Certifications
The ‘Q’ mark is issued to producers who meet the specifications outlined in the Uganda Standards. This mark is recognised by all the East African countries i.e. Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania – so it broadens the market hugely for the producer/importer. The process starts with an application which is filled by the producer. This is followed by documentation review and an on-site audit. Samples are taken for testing over an agreed period to establish the producers consistency in producing a quality product.. There are on average 500 certificates issued to date.
The ‘S’ mark is issued to small and medium enterprises that meet the minimum requirements of the Compulsory Uganda Standards The Statutory Instrument that governs this certification scheme is under review and when approved it will be a requirement for all products in the Ugandan market that are covered under compulsory standards, to bear this mark.
The process includes registration of the producers’ premises (where goods are produced) and nature of goods produced (type and numbers). It also involves audits, and testing as above but at a smaller scale, focusing mainly on the safety of the product. Certificates are issued annually. The SMEs represent a large proportion of the Ugandan industry and therefore UNBS is obliged to offers support to the SMEs in various ways, including training, to improve the quality of their products and offering subsidised audit fees. The scheme which has attracted many SMEs has on average 200 certificates issued to date.
The UNBS invites more producers to join the certification schemes so as to provide support to them in improving the standards of their products.
The Certificate Cost
There is a cost involved in issuing the certificate. The cost for the Q Mark Certification is in the UNBS Act which has been amended. It is likely therefore to go higher. It has been in at 800,000 per product for the last 20 years. The cost includes testing and audit fees as well as the costs of document reviews and issuing of certificates.
The Quality Awareness
The Producers: The standards are developed, with ‘safety’ and ‘quality’ in mind, by a technical committee consisting of experts such as academicians, business people, manufacturers, politicians etc that form a stakeholders’ group. The secretariat (UNBS Standards Department) then takes it through to the National Standards Council (the Governing Board for UNBS) for an approval. When it is established that the only way to have products meeting the standard is by enforcement, a request is sent to the Minister (Trade Industry and Cooperatives) to make the standards a compulsory standard. Producers failing to comply will be penalised according to the requirements stipulated in the UNBS Act.
The Consumers: The UNBS will educate the consumers how to recognise the standards via various campaigns on radio & TV talk shows, billboards and other media (in English and the local languages). The UNBS will also liaise with the various communities to ensure the messages reach maximum people.
The UNBS will work to introduce a culture of rejecting and reporting the non-standard or sub-standards goods that will hurt the producers/importers concerned.
The UNBS will also educate the consumers about the metrology - weights & measures – as the fuel pump meters & weighing scales etc still remains a big challenge. Issues of calibration and factory gauges are of concern too.
The Act has been amended to introduce tough penalties for producers who fail to comply with the required compulsory standards. The penalties’ formula varies according to the problem involved and the size of the business e.g. if the entire consignment contains the ‘unfit’ goods, the fine (including imprisonment) will reflect accordingly. This could result into some retailers who intentionally fail to comply, to go out of business.
The Inspection Team
The UNBS engages trained and experienced inspectors backed by the specialised laboratories facilities. They are able to use their experienced knowledge backed by the huge supportive product information available to them to decide if the goods meet the required standards or not.
The officers involved are regularly monitored to ensure that they carry their duty ethically and honestly. The UNBS regards all complaints from the traders very seriously and deals with it immediately and effectively to ensure that the traders do not suffer unnecessarily.
The Chinese Syndrome
It is understood in Uganda that most if not all substandard goods originate from China. This has been due to two main reasons: the Chinese exporters who send sub-standard goods intentionally and the local importers who intentionally seek out the producers of sub standard goods. This is all done in the name of making unrealistic profits in the shortest time possible, with no regard to the health and safety of the consumers. China produces excellent quality goods too. However for profitability purpose, the traders have avoided to buy such goods - a sad story. The consumer affordability is not the question as Ugandans were poorer before but were purchasing better quality goods even then. The PVOC program will be able to weed out traders as well as exporters from China with the intent of sending sub-standard products to Uganda.
Cheap Goods Outflow Regionally
The PVoC will ensure that better quality goods are imported in future and the certification scheme will ensure that the local goods are produced to the required standard. The outflow of the sub-standard goods should stop .
The Target Period
The PVOC program commenced on 1st June 2013 but the Certification schemes have been running for a number of years. With the forthcoming awareness campaigns, we hope that more local producers will join the existing certification schemes. During the campaigns we will listen to their concerns and guide them to improve the quality of their products while remaining competitive in the market. Likewise, we will educate the consumers to look for quality goods and reject the sub standard goods.
UNBS is set to install new hi-tech machines worth $2.5m (about sh6.5b) to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in service delivery. The acquisition, which is part of the broad Quality Infrastructure and Standards Programme (QUISP) aimed at improving trade in the country, will be implemented in two phases to be completed by the end of the year. It is predicted that by June 2014 the full effect of the program will be visible.
The Diasporas and the Foreign Investors
The UNBS welcome the return of the Ugandans in the Diaspora who not only have capital but have knowledge and experience on what quality products are like. With all foreign investors, we are happy to discuss the area of their interest and work with them and guide them on specific standards required - although most foreigners do believe in better standards.
Identifying the right product remains the key to a business success and the UNBS, in association with other concerned agencies, can help with the selection.