UNBS annual performance highlights for FY 2018/19
4th September , 2019 , Hits: 909
- Our core mandate is to develop, promote and enforce standards to ensure competitiveness of locally manufactured products and to protect the health and safety of consumers and the environment against substandard products.
- Over the past one year, we undertook activities in accordance with approved work programmes and budget. The activities were aimed at improving competitiveness of Ugandan products to access regional and international markets, improving the quality of products on the market, ensuring accuracy in measurement systems to promote fair trade and improving public awareness on quality standards.
- The total approved budget for FY 2018/19 was UGX 47.8 billion of which UGX 26.5 billion was from Non Tax Revenue. 94.8% of the budget was released of which UGX 6 billion was allocated to the construction of the Food safety laboratories. The labs are 95% complete and are expected to be commissioned later this year.
2.0 Improved competiveness of locally manufactured products to access export market.
- During the FY 2018/19, UNBS undertook Product Certification and Management Systems Certification to improve the quality of locally manufactured products so that they are able to access regional and international markets.
- As you are aware, the East African Community region has become a major destination for Ugandan exports.
- Uganda in June exported more of her goods to the East African Community (EAC) than any other region in the world, according to the latest Performance of the Economy Monthly Report released. The report released by the Ministry of Finance shows that exports to the EAC region grew by 51.8 percent from US$ 89.40 million in May 2016 to US$ 135.74 million in May 2017. Exports to Tanzania and Kenya registered the largest increases of 114.5 percent and 111.2 percent respectively.
- Most of these exports are manufactured products that require UNBS Distinctive Mark, thus emphasizing the UNBS Distinctive Mark as a passport to regional markets and the need for manufacturers to invest in quality and certification of their products.
- On July 1st 2018, a new regulation came into force on use of UNBS Distinctive Mark, 2018. The new regulation made it mandatory for products covered by compulsory standards to be certified and issued with a distinctive mark before they are allowed on the market. As a result, we witnessed an exponential increase in the number of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) seeking certification. We registered 1,339 MSMEs seeking certification. We also trained 847 and visited 619 MSMEs to build their capacity to apply standards and produce products that conform to standards thus contributing to the government’s export promotion strategy.
- We certified 1,350 products against a target of 3,000 permits. All certified products were able to access the wider EAC market. We issued 28 management systems certification permits against a target of 35.
- The shortfall was due to failure by a number of MSMEs to pay fees for both testing and auditing despite registration; failure by MSMEs to address gaps in conformity to standards identified during certification audits; low technology base among MSMEs and; shortage of staff to handle the increased number of applicants and to assist MSMEs through the certification process.
- UNBS would like to further appeal to Government to provide a specialised fund to support MSMEs certification, competitiveness and access to regional and international markets. The benefits accruing from such support yield tremendous benefits for the country in terms of job creation, payment of taxes and wealth creation.
2.2 Standards Development
- Standards and conformity assessments improve efficiency of production and facilitate international trade thereby contributing to Uganda’s economic development.
- In FY 2018/19, we developed 404 standards against a target of 400. The standards developed support key sectors of the economy and act as a catalyst for economic growth.
- Out of 404 standards, 212 are in the area of chemicals and consumer products, 62 under engineering, 96 under food and agriculture and 34 under management and services.
- Standards for cosmetics were developed including shea butter for the industry, a product widely produced by SMEs in the country. The standard supports ongoing Government efforts to find niche markets for the highly sought out cosmetic product.
- Fishing is a major economic activity on especially Lake Victoria, Albert and Kyoga and the revenues from the activity impact on millions of livelihoods in the country and majority youth engaged in the activity. The Fisheries sector contributes 1.5% to the GDP of the country with export receipts in excess of USD 140 million. In order to promote sustainable fishing activities, a standard for a fishing gill nets was elaborated.
- Under textiles, standards for school clothing were developed to support manufacture of standard garments for use in schools. These standards also directly contribute to the implementation of the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) Policy considering that most of the school clothing are manufactured locally.
- Standards for farm tools and implements such as spades, hoes, wheelbarrows and machetes were reviewed. The standards contribute to improvement of quality of the tools on the market considering that these have been highlighted among the common substandard products in the market place.
- Under furniture, standards for products such as dining tables, wooden wardrobes, steel filing cabinets, office chairs and composite office tables were developed during the same Financial year. This is one of the flagship sectors identified by the Government under the BUBU Policy. The standards will promote local manufacture of the products that meet quality and performance requirements.
- Under the ICT sector which is one of the critical sectors for the country in a bid to attain lower middle income status, the standards for network security and information security management systems were developed. The standards provide mechanisms for establishment, implementation, maintenance and improvement of information security management systems.
- Standards for major staple foods such as maize, beans, wheat, sorghum and millet were revised and updated to ensure quality and safe commodities are available for consumption thus contributing to improvement of the food security Uganda and livelihoods of the rural communities considering that generally food crops contribute 12.8% of GDP annually. The standards also contribute as part of the approaches to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals especially goals 1 & 2 on No poverty and zero hunger respectively.
- The standard for green coffee beans was also developed to contribute to the Government’s effort of increasing coffee production from 4 million to 20 million 60 Kg bags of coffee by 2020. In 2017/18, Uganda exported coffee worth USD 555 million, accounting for 20% of all the formal exports.
2.3 Laboratory Product Testing
- UNBS laboratories are internationally accredited which means the test results are recognised globally.
- For the period under review, UNBS 17,770 product samples against a target of 15,000. These included chemicals, food items, electrical items, materials & engineering items, to ensure that both locally manufactured and imported items conform to Uganda Standards.
- The e-certificates were successfully implemented under Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) to improve on turnaround time. The turnaround time for testing products in UNBS Analytical Laboratories has generally improved from an average of 30 days in the last financial year to 20 days which is in line with our promise to customers of delivering laboratory test reports within 21 days upon submission of a product sample for testing.
- To further improve on the turnaround time, UNBS has put in place a laboratory recognition scheme where over 15 public and private laboratories can be contracted to test samples on behalf of UNBS.
- Analysis of veterinary drug residues was consolidated with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) project to safeguard consumption of animal products such as meat, milk, eggs and others.
- The Chemistry laboratory was assessed for its potential to be a Centre of Excellence on the African Continent for testing heavy metal contaminants in foods.
3.0 Ensuring quality products on the market
We undertook a number of activities in enforcing standards to ensure that we have quality products on the market and to protect the health and safety of consumers. We still have challenges in the prevalence of the substandard goods on the market especially from the informal business. The prevalence while showing a downward trend still remains high thus calling for more efforts in consumer vigilance, market information sharing, partnership at local governments and consumer awareness.
3.1 Imports Inspection
- Under imports inspection and clearance regulation 2018, all goods covered by compulsory standards must be inspected in the country of origin for compliance with Uganda Standards before they are imported into the country.
- 447 consignments that did not meet standards estimated at Shs29.1 billion (USD 7,856,604) were denied entry into Uganda thus protecting more than 5 million consumers from consuming substandard products.
- 28 motor vehicles worth Shs650 million that did not meet standards were denied entry into the Ugandan market. Therefore, consumers were saved from spending Shs650 million on motor vehicles that did not meet standards.
- 222 tonnes of a variety of substandard products worth shs992 million seized at the point of importation were destroyed. These included food and food products, chemicals and consumable products, assorted electronics, mattresses and assorted textiles.
- The Import Inspectors were deployed to 20 additional entry border points and customs inland container depots which resulted in inspection of additional 8,600 consignments per annum. This resulted in the protection of about 900,000 consumers from potentially harmful and substandard products.
3.2 Market Surveillance
- UNBS carries out market surveillance as a quality assurance measure to ensure that goods sold on the local market meet the requirements of the standards.
- 6,646 inspections were undertaken against the annual target of 5,000 inspections. This included interception of trucks distributing uncertified products which contributed to 58% of the total inspections.
- 413 tonnes of substandard items worth Sh66.4 billion were seized from supermarkets, retail shops, distribution outlets, manufacturing premises, hardware shops, and Internal Container Depots (ICDs), and distribution trucks.
4.0 Ensuring Accuracy of Measurement Systems
- Maintaining accuracy of measuring equipment used in trade is an important aspect of a commercial transaction. Accurate measurements ensure that the seller trades the correct amount while the buyer gets exactly what they pay for.
- UNBS inspects weighing equipment used in trade for accuracy to protect both the buyer and the seller in a commercial transaction thereby promoting fair trade. Accurate instruments are issued with a UNBS Sticker as evidence that the accuracy of the instrument has been verified.
- Electricity meters. Utility companies use meters for measurement of units sold to consumers in a commercial transaction. UNBS regulates such transactions by verifying meters used by utility companies. Currently UNBS verifies all electricity meters used by power distributors for accuracy before they are installed on their distribution networks.
- Last year, we verified 144,471 meters against a target of 100,000 meters. 15 per cent of meters used by domestic consumers tested were to be inaccurate and susceptible to cheating customers while 35 per cent of meters used by industrialists and in large commercial set ups were found to be inaccurate and susceptible to cheating industrialists and manufacturers. These meters were disabled and corrective actions recommended before they could be installed on the electricity distribution network.
- Verification of fuel dispensing pumps. We verified 15,743 fuel-dispensing pumps against a target of 15,360. We found that 12% of the verified fuel pumps were under delivering fuel to customers thus cheating consumers while 8% of the pumps were delivering more fuel thus cheating fuel retailers. The culpable fuel station were penalised in accordance with existing regulations.
- Verification of road tankers. UNBS acts as an arbiter in the transport and supply of fuel by verifying the accuracy of road tankers. In FY 2018/19, we verified 2,151 road tankers against a target of 3,000. 98% of road tankers coming into Uganda were found to be registering inaccurate measurements thus cheating oil depots to the tune of Shs9,612,388,800 due to manipulated charts and dipsticks, which would cause business losses. Without UNBS intervention, UNBS intervention oil deport owners would have lost Shs9.6 billion due to inaccuracies.
- Verification of weighing equipment used in trade. Weighing scales used in day-to-day commercial transactions at grocery stores, butcheries, supermarkets, etc. should measure accurately. We verified 156,514 weighing equipment were verified against a target of 155,646. About 35% of total verified weighing equipment were cheating consumers. Without our interventions, customers would have lost Shs11.3 billion in inaccurate measurements.
- Weighbridges. With the increasing economic activity, we have witnessed increasing number of bulk measuring equipment such as weighbridges. Last year we verified 79 weighbridges to ensure that they are measuring accurately. 32% of weighbridges were found to be inaccurate and corrective actions were recommended. Many of these pattern types had not been approved by UNBS.
- Pre-packaging. UNBS inspects pre-packaged products to ensure that all goods meet the labelling requirements and that the displayed weight reflects the actual quantity of the packaged item. We inspected 5,510 outlets against a target of 5,500 outlets.
5. ICT and Automation of UNBS Services
As part of the medium term IT strategy UNBS continues to invest in ICT platforms for enhanced service delivery. In the past 2 years, UNBS has been able to automate most of its services including the development of UNBS APP. Other platforms include the e-portal for imports inspection, LIMS for laboratory, CIMS for certification, SIMS for standards and webstore for procurement of standards on-line. E-MINZANI is in the process of being piloted and tested before roll out this year.
6. Decentralisation of UNBS Services
In addition to the e-platforms, UNBS continue to decentralise its services so as to bring services closer to Ugandans. As a result the market surveillance and product certification functions were decentralised to Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara. We hope that the laboratory testing will follow this financial year depending on the release of funds from government.
7. Focus in FY 2019-20
UNBS focused efforts will continue with deepening the decentralisation of UNBS services in Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara. Efforts are underway for increased engagement and collaboration with Local Governments and partners to reduce the substandard goods on the market while empowering MSMEs to export to regional and international markets.
Quality and standards have greater potential to unlock most challenges facing the country. Indeed most countries that have developed in terms of trade and investments have invested in the national quality infrastructure of standards, conformity assessment and metrology. The FY 2018-19 was a challenging and yet rewarding year for UNBS. The Bureau continues to grow in terms of infrastructure and manpower but is yet to reach the desired optimal levels to satisfy our stakeholder’s expectations. The overall operating capacity in terms of budget is between 40-45%. We would therefore like to call upon government and media for increased support to UNBS activities and programs so as to contribute more effectively to national socio-economic development of Uganda through quality and standards everywhere.
Dr Ben MANYINDO
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNBS
4th September 2019