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Executives Present Histories and Challenges of African National Standards Bodies
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 July 2007
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Executives Present Histories and Challenges of African National Standards Bodies

ELSIE MEINTJIES, managing director, Botswana Bureau of Standards. Meintjies presented a short video that has been created to introduce the concept of standardization to the general population of Botswana. She noted that while there are a number of interrelated issues facing BOBS, one that stands out is simply finding people to be involved in standardization activities. It is a challenge to find more stakeholders to write the standards as well as to solicit public comment on standards work.

GUILLAUME LIGONGO MALIBA, director of standardization management, Office Congolais de Controle. Maliba spoke of the importance of standardization in Congo as a way of promoting healthy living to consumers and controlling fair trade in terms of quality, quantity, conformity and price for imports to and exports from Congo. Initially, the mission of the OCC was only to analyze samples of natural resources such as minerals, coffee, timber and all products intended for exportation. Today, as the volume of imports has increased, the mission has changed into analyzing products such as imported food, drugs, cosmetics and chemicals. According to Maliba, standardization is a relatively new activity in the country, with standards development beginning in 2000. In addition to international and regional adopted standards, OCC is working to promote standardization and standards of natural resources that are of interest to African consumers. Following the Open House, Office Congolais de Controle signed a memorandum of understanding with ASTM International (see page 29).

MESAI GIRMA, director general, Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia. Girma described the activities of the Quality and Standards Authority of Ethiopia, which was founded in 1970 and restructured in 1998. He said the goal of QSAE is to be a national center of excellence for standards development. Girma also noted that creating a formal infrastructure for quality is a challenge currently faced by QSAE. QSAE signed an MOU with ASTM International in 2005.

ADU GYAMFI DARKWA, executive director, Ghana Standards Board. In a brief presentation, Darkwa outlined the history of the Ghana Standards Board. Established in 1967, it is responsible for metrology, standards, testing and quality assurance. He also spoke of GSB’s challenges in becoming more internationally competitive as well as to create more awareness of the use of standards in people’s everyday lives.

CHARLES MALATA-CHIRWA, director general, Malawi Bureau of Standards. In his presentation on the MBS, Malata-Chirwa noted that the organization has been in existence since 1972. He said that MBS wants to participate in the international standardization process but that the accreditation of laboratories continues to present a challenge. Malata-Chirwa said that the government of Malawi is supporting a way forward that includes consultations with stakeholders, strengthening the mandate of the MBS and improving resources and facilities.

KHEMRAJ RAMFUL, director, Mauritius Standards Bureau. For the island country of Mauritius, standards are part of a plan to develop new economic growth engines, improve energy efficiency and enhance the tourism sector of the economy, according to Ramful. However, he also noted that getting the word out to the public on the role and purpose of standards has been challenging. The Mauritius Standards Bureau, set up in 1975, is 30 percent self-sustained but is working toward 100 percent self-sufficiency. MSB signed an MOU with ASTM International in 2005.

JOHN AKANYA, director general/chief executive, Standards Organization of Nigeria. The Standards Organization of Nigeria was founded in 1971. SON has its corporate headquarters in Abuja, its operational headquarters in Lagos and offices in nearly all of Nigeria’s 36 states. In his presentation, Akanya said that some of the challenges facing SON are an influx of sub-standard products into Nigeria, an absence of standards and test criteria in some imported products and enforcement difficulties at the port of entry and at borders. Another challenge noted was the local content initiative of the federal government of Nigeria, especially in the oil and gas sector where it is required that materials and expertise should be sourced locally to encourage indigenous companies. Such initiatives require adequate standardization to succeed. SON signed an MOU with ASTM International in 2004.

MARTIN J. KUSCUS, chief executive officer, South African Bureau of Standards. The South African Bureau of Standards was established in 1945 as the national institution for standardization in South Africa. Currently, SABS has aligned its activities with seven different industry sectors: chemicals, electrochemical, food and health, mechanical and materials, mining and minerals, services, and transportation. Kuscus said that dealing with capacity variances, quality infrastructure and the need to find the right industry and government balance in standards developing activities are among the standardization issues that SABS currently faces. He also noted the importance of avoiding any unnecessary barriers to trade. SABS signed an MOU with ASTM International in 2003.

HENSON DLAMINI, quality assurance system administrator, Standardization and Quality Assurance Section, Swaziland Ministry of Enterprise and Employment. The section was created as the precursor of the Swaziland Standards Authority, which is in the process of being established and will be officially launched in the near future. Dlamini said that the country has a small industrial base and that institutional structures to establish quality assurance are needed. Related to this, Dlamini stated that the organization hopes to create consumer quality awareness campaigns.

MATAA MUKELABAI, executive director, Zambia Bureau of Standards. According to Mukelabai, some of the current challenges facing ZABS are the small number of technical experts available to develop standards and the need for import quality monitoring and product certification. ZABS has signed memorandums of understanding with ASTM International (2004), the Malawi Bureau of Standards and the Standards Association of Zimbabwe.

MAUREEN P. MUTASA, director general, Standards Association of Zimbabwe. The Standards Association of Zimbabwe was formed in 1957 and incorporated in 1960 as a non-government body. Its mission is to develop and encourage the widespread use of standards by clients in order to improve the quality and competitiveness of Zimbabwean products and safeguard the health and safety of communities. According to Mrs. Mutasa, the primary concerns about standardization in Zimbabwe are the low level of awareness on the need and importance of standardization among the general public and industry, particularly the small enterprises and the informal sector, and the minimal use of voluntary standards in regulations. On the other hand, the prevailing macroeconomic environment in Zimbabwe has frustrated efforts to develop the national standardization infrastructure at a pace fast enough to keep up with international developments. SAZ signed an MOU with ASTM International in 2002. //