Location: Plot M217 Nakawa Industrial Area, Kampala, Uganda
Address: P.O.Box 6329, Kampala, Uganda
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.