Performance highlights for half year (July to December, FY2017/18)
I am pleased to report that UNBS performed strongly in the period under review.
I would like to appreciate my staff and colleagues who worked hard to produce good results and our partners and stakeholders including the media that have supported UNBS in posting these half year results.
We received 100% funding of our budget (UGX 20 billion) that was applied to the various activities of the Bureau. We managed to meet and surpass most of our targets as we executed our mandate of promoting and facilitating the adoption and use of standards to enhance the quality and competitiveness of locally manufactured products while at the same time ensuring compliance to protect consumer health and safety and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products.
As part of UNBS policy implementation on zero tolerance on corruption and fraud, disciplinary measures were taken and some staff dismissed.
Promotional Mandate – Standards
In performing our mandate of promoting competiveness of local industries by developing standards and certifying quality products, the following results were achieved:
During the period under review, a total of 254 standards were developed mainly to support the implementation of the Buy Uganda, Build Uganda (BUBU) Policy as well as enabling Micro Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) to develop competitive products. Out of the 254 standards, 76 standards were declared as compulsory standards because of the impact on the health and safety of consumers and the environment.
Standards ensure that goods produced and traded in the country are safe and competitive both in local and international markets. To this end, UNBS continued to focus on developing standards that contribute to the competitiveness of local industries and supporting the economic development of our country through support for growth of exports.
111 Standards that cover chemicals and consumer products were developed in response to government priorities in the oil and gas sector focusing on test methods for crude oil, metering systems for petroleum products, qualification testing of welders, inspection and testing of gas cylinders and waste management. Standards for commercial blasting explosives were also developed to support the ongoing work of Uganda People’s Defence Forces at Nakasongola Explosives Facility.
Agriculture contributes to more than 25% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Therefore, growth in the sector through standardisation and quality assurance is important. In this regard, UNBS developed 43 standards for Agro inputs especially those commonly used in fertilizers, storage requirements for fruits and vegetables and meat carcasses.
To support the government investment in public infrastructure projects, UNBS developed 52 engineering standards covering standards for steel tanks, building limes, padlocks, furniture products, inspection and testing of used motor vehicles, LED lamps and lighting kits for rural electrification.
With the growing number of amusement parks, safety has become paramount. Thus standards for safety of amusement rides and devices were developed to give protection to the users especially children and the youth below 15 years old.
Standards for mobile financial services have also been developed to support the fast growing mobile money industry.
Uganda is considered one of the most entrepreneurial countries in the world. As such, entrepreneurs need to continue applying management standards for continuous improvement. The nascent gaming and lotteries industry will be a direct beneficiary of our work in this regard. For the period under review, the UNBS developed 48 standards covering management and services sector particularly requirements for casinos and for limited pay out machines.
The UNBS product certification marks is an assurance to consumers that a particular product meets the required quality standards.
To support the government programme of promoting development of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs), 467 certification permits were issued, of which 9 were to MSMEs.
In addition, UNBS carried out training of 636 stakeholders from MSMEs in standardisation and quality assurance of their products. We believe such trainings will motivate these MSMEs to begin standardising their processes and procedures as they move towards certification.
Through UNBS annual quality gala awards ceremony held in November 2017, UNBS recognised companies that had consistently implemented quality standards.
UNBS laboratories carry out tests on various product samples to evaluate their compliance to set standards for quality assurance.
Analysis of samples and tests are carried out in our Chemistry, Microbiology, Electrical, and Materials laboratories.
A total of 6,916 samples were analysed during this period against a set target of 6,000 samples. The increase of 916 samples above target was attributed to increased number of samples as result of our market surveillance activities.
With support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Chemistry Laboratory secured the a state-of-the art equipment which will help in testing of Veterinary drugs for residues and other food contaminants in animal products such as meat, eggs, milk among others.
Calibration Services provided under the National Metrology Laboratory (NML) have enabled a number of large, medium, small and micro firms to effectively control manufacturing processes and meet certification requirements, in support of MSME development and export promotion. Over 210 companies were served in the last six months.
Specialised calibration services were also provide to government agencies such as Uganda Revenue Authority and Uganda National Roads Authority.
The average turnaround time for calibration request received in the last six months improved from 28 days to 2 to 12 days. This is attributed to automation of our systems and increased customer focus.
Regulatory Mandate – Compliance
In performing our mandate of enforcing standards to protect consumer health and safety and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products, the following results were achieved:
Uganda is a net importer of general goods which means that the majority of the goods on the market are imports. Therefore, it is important to inspect goods at the point of entry to stop dangerous substandard products from entering the market.
As a trade facilitation measure to ensure faster clearance of goods and also to reduce the cost of doing business, the UNBS deployed staff at the port of Mombasa to handle the inspections previously carried out at the inland boarders.
The UNBS has also automated its imports clearance processes which has reduced the turnaround time for imports clearance from 11 days to 5 days. This has been further facilitated by the electronic single window which allows various government agencies involved in imports clearance to interface and share data electronically.
We hope to further reduce the turnaround time by facilitating pre-arrival clearance of inspected goods with data from Pre-export verification of conformity (PVoC) service providers.
Under PVoC goods for importation into Uganda are inspected for conformity to national standards prior to shipment into the country. Under the program, 4.6 billion products were inspected of which 16 million products failed. As a result of UNBS intervention under the PVoC program, we are able to stop 16 million substandard products from being imported into the country.
Such goods would have otherwise had adverse effects on the health and safety of consumers. In addition, 246 second hand motor vehicles failed test and were denied entry into the country. Such vehicles would have adverse effects on the environment and further compromised the user’s safety.
The UNBS market surveillance team is responsible for monitoring the market to ensure that products on the market meet standard for health and safety and that dangerous products are banned from the market and, if necessary, impose penalties and prosecute culprits.
In playing our consumer protection role, the UNBS market surveillance team seized about 232 metric tonnes of goods worth Shs1.7 billion. The seized goods would have otherwise been detrimental to the health and safety of consumers.
The goods seized included steel bars, iron sheets, assorted food stuffs, energy savers, extension cables, cosmetics, agro-inputs, sweets, cooking oil, second hand tyres, beers, paint, and maize flour, among others.
To put it into context, the 2,037 iron sheets we seized would have built about 70, 2-bedroomed houses. Therefore, our market surveillance efforts saved 70 households from using substandard iron sheets which would have compromised the strength and durability of their houses.
Once goods are seized from the market, they are kept in safe custody at our warehouse in Bweyogerere from which periodic destructions are carried out. In the period between July and December 2017, 48 Metric tonnes of substandard goods worth about 950 million were destroyed.
The destroyed products included cosmetics containing hydroquinone, assorted food stuffs, cement, iron sheets, electrical products (extension cables, electrical cables, bulbs etc.), mattresses, weighing scales, paints, diapers, sanitary towels, baby powdered milk, toilet paper, among others.
The Utilities division of the legal metrology department is charged with verification for accuracy of energy meters installed by various utility companies. In the period under review, UNBS verified 6,500 electricity meters. About 6,000 failed verification and corrective measures were recommended.
Without our intervention, 6,000 electricity meters would have been in the market giving wrong measurements to the detriment of the consumers.
That is why, we are keen on verifying all electricity meters already installed by various utility companies particularly UMEME which is the largest service provider.
Also in an effort to protect the public from being cheated in wrong measurements, we increased surveillance and verification of fuel dispensers.
July to December, we verified 7,714 fuel pump dispensers compared to 7,169 under same period last financial year. During verification a number of anomalies were detected and corrected.
Our intervention in terms of verification saved fuel dealers from losses due to sometimes over delivery by the fuel dispensers.
Consumer Awareness and stakeholder engagement
Through our School outreach programme, we were able to reach 1,872 students from 29 schools and 7 districts as an effort to raise a generation that appreciates standards and quality products.
In November we held a consumer awareness forum in Kampala which attracted over 200 participants.
We have developed customer service charter as a commitment to deliver to our clients the right quality of standards and conformity assessments services, at competitive prices in a timely manner.
In August 2017, the testing department hosted the COMESA 6th Regional Aflatoxin Proficiency Testing Evaluation Workshop and where the department also received equipment for sampling grains for aflatoxin testing. The workshop was attended by participants from 9 countries
We held an international conference of the Codex Committee on Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in October 2017 which attracted over 200 delegates from 120 countries.
Priorities for the next half year (January-June 2018)
Engaging government to increase funding to UNBS and especially increasing the manpower which is currently at 45% of the requirement.
Preparation for the decentralisation of UNBS services to be effected in July 2018.
SME development to support Buy Uganda Build Uganda policy.
Consumer awareness and stakeholder engagement in the light of regulations on compulsory certification and import standardisation mark.
Construction of the State of the Art Modern Food Testing reference Laboratories at the Headquarters in Bweyogerere.
Meeting our overall targets for the FY 2017/18 and ensuring continued innovations in service delivery.
Dr Ben MANYINDO
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNBS