WINDHOEK- With industrialisation at the centre stage of the regional integration agenda, the application of Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology, (SQAM) principles in promoting competitiveness is essential, as it makes businesses efficient, competitive in terms of price, time to market, safety and environmental compliance. The Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Secretary Executive, Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax made the remarks when she addressed the SQAM fraternity at a gala dinner during the 2019 Sadc Quality Awards on Wednesday in Windhoek.
The Sadc Secretariat in collaboration with the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development hosted the 9th Sadc Quality Awards at the Country Club in Windhoek, Namibia on the margins of week-long 34th Sadc Technical Barriers-to-Trade (TBT) meetings, where business entities from eSwatini, Zambia and Zimbabwe scooped the awards.
“The application of basic Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology principles cannot be overemphasised, as they ensure safety and protection of consumers, while contributing to the enhancement of competitiveness, in order to realise Sadc aspirations to industrialise and transform our economies,” Tax noted.
She encouraged Sadc member states to invest in the upgrade and accreditation of their national infrastructure for quality (SQAM institutions) in order to reduce, and or eliminate technical barriers to trade especially, as the region steadily progress towards the COMESA-EAC-Sadc Tripartite Free Trade Area, as well as the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The guest of honour at the awards presentation ceremony, who is the Deputy Minister of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, Lucia Iipumbu congratulated the winners for the 2019 Quality Awards and encouraged them to promote competitiveness and quality of products in their respective member states.
These awards are to be therefore, taken as part of Sadc initiatives to promote the use of standards and quality principles by companies (both private and public) in Member States, to ensure that systems, products and services meet the requirements of national, regional and international standards.
During this financial year, 21 entries were received from five member states, namely eSwatini, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The first awards were held in 2011.
Iipumbu said, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the demand for quality and safe products and services with reliable and trustworthy traceability system will now increase, more than ever before.
She commended the Sadc Secretariat for holding the annual awards, highlighting that it will go a long way in completing and forming the strong foundation on which the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be built.
Tax highlighted that SQAM principles are also critical in reducing barriers to trade, regionally and internationally through the harmonization of standards and approximation of technical regulations, which ease the flow of goods from one economy to the other.
She said the mutual recognition of the equivalence of the national infrastructure for quality between member states, makes nations amenable to receiving commodities from each other.
Hence, she noted commodities that are produced in member states whose institutions for quality assurance (laboratories, inspection bodies, and metrology institutions) are not accredited, miss an opportunity of accessing the international markets.
In addition, Tax said, as they all agree, if the SQAM infrastructure in the region and in Sadc member states would be brought up to international standards, and regionally harmonised, the possibility and frequency of TBTs would be sustainably reduced.
She maintained to ensure the advancement of SQAM, and to therefore, enable the region to competitively trade in goods and services, member states are encouraged to provide the legal and institutional framework for SQAM, such as, the National Quality Policy; the Standards Act; the Metrology Act; and the Conformity Assessment Policy.
“There is also a need to establish the necessary institutions, such as, the National Standards Bodies, the Technical Regulations Authority, the Metrology Institute, and the Testing and Calibration Centers. Such national bodies could be recognised and utilised as Regional Centers of Excellence in providing SQAM services,” she said.
The private sector is also called upon to participate in the development and adoption of internationally recognised national standards, implement standard and quality principles in their daily operations, get certified for systems and product quality.
Caption (Pic; Sadc awards):
2019-03-15 09:23:37 2 months ago