6th October , 2020 , Hits: 1126
The Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Dr. Ben Manyindo delivered UNBS’ annual Performance report for the FY 2019/2020 to the public on Monday 5th October 2020, at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala.
UNBS’ 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, UNBS 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 2019/20 was UGX 68.9 Billion of which UGX 59.7 Billion was released by end of the Financial Year. The Bureau generated and remitted Non Tax Revenue UGX38.2 Billion to the Consolidated Fund during the year which constitutes 64% of the released budget during the year.
‘The year has presented an unprecedented challenge imposed by COVID-19 that has made UNBS rethink the way of doing business. However, we have used this crisis to harness opportunities for businesses seeking standardisation services as below’;
2.0 Certification of Products required in the fight against COVID – 19
I. Sanitizers: By March 2020, only two companies had been certified to manufacture Hand sanitisers. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of manufacturers dramatically increased. Accordingly, by 30th June 2020, 209 companies (with 254 brands) had been certified.
II.Food distribution: UNBS deployed a full time (seven days a week) field team comprising of 25 staff at the OPM stores in Nakawa where the food supplies were being delivered. UNBS also maintained 20 staff at its laboratories, working 7seven days a week, to ensure expeditious testing of the samples of food being delivered to the laboratory for quality and safety testing. Of this, maize had an 80% compliance rate, while dry beans had a compliance rate of 77%.
III. Non-medical Face Masks: UNBS developed standards for facemasks and was able to certify over 40 companies to produce non-medical facemasks by June 2020. It is mandatory for anyone above the age of six to wear a facemask in public space.
During the FY 2019/2020, 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.
We recorded an increase from 1350 products certification permits in FY2018/19 to 2705 permits in FY2019/20. And 62 permits under system certification. All UNBS certified products were able to access the wider EAC market.
This is a second year into the implementation of the UNBS Distinctive Mark, 2018 regulation. 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. During the FY 2019/20 we registered 1168 MSMEs and visited 304 MSMEs for on-site technical assistance and gap analysis. 1068 MSMEs visited UNBS and were provided with technical advisory services (compared to 929 MSMEs in FY2018/19), to build their capacity to apply standards and produce products that conform to standards thus contributing to the government’s export promotion strategy.
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, low technology base among MSMEs, Shortage of staff to handle the increased number of applicants to assist MSMEs through the certification process and of course challenges imposed on the sector by Covid 19 pandemic.
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.
4.0 Standards Development
Standards and conformity assessments improve efficiency of production and facilitate international trade thereby contributing to Uganda’s economic development.
In FY 2019/20, we developed 505 new standards bringing the total number of standards for use today, to 3948.The standards developed support key sectors of the economy and act as a catalyst for economic growth. Of the new 505 standards, 110 are in the area of Food and Agricultural sector, 148 in the Chemicals and consumer products, 125 are for Engineering and 122 for Management and services.
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.
To boast Standards comprehension, internalisation and implementation, UNBS simplified select food and agriculture standards into easy to use guidelines and translated them into the most widely spoken Ugandan languages; Luganda, Luo, Ateso, Lumasaaba, Lunyoro-Kitara among other languages with support from the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) and translation work into other languages is ongoing to enable their easy implementation.todate, Over 600 farmers in the districts of Kabarole, Hoima, Ibanda, Kasese, Kayunga, Kiboga, Otuke, Lira, Soroti, Agago, Sironko/Mbale, Bugiri, and Amuru have benefited from this intervention.
UNBS will then have standards enforced with nobody having any excuse for pleading ignorance, but they could still ask for advice on how to fully comply.
5. 0. Laboratory Product Testing
The construction of the Food Safety Laboratories at UNBS Bweyogerere Headquarters were completed during the year and they are now fully operational.
UNBS laboratories are internationally accredited which means the test results are recognised globally.
For the period under review, UNBS tested over 1060 product samples mainly products used by government in the fight against covid 19.
To date, UNBS registered increase in efficiency in terms of turn round time from 25 days in FY 2019 to 18 days in 2020.in line with our promise to customers of delivering laboratory test reports within 21 days upon submission of a product sample for testing.
Market surveillance inspections undertaken to ensure that we have quality products on the market to protect the health and safety of consumers. In this regard, we undertook a number of activities in enforcing standards to ensure that we have quality products on the market to protect the health and safety of consumers.
In FY 2019/20, we registered 11% increase in our market surveillance inspections with 7,345 market surveillance inspections conducted against 6,646 inspections conducted in FY 2018/19 .The Inspections conducted covered over 56% of the entire country
Cosmetics and body care products topped UNBS list of non-complying products followed by beverages, building materials and food stuffs with most results registered in the central, western, eastern and northern regions respectively.
UNBS also notes increased sale of substandard products through the mobile vans and distribution trucks accounting for 58% of the total number of inspections by UNBS during its market surveillance inspections for the period under review. About 8% of the market surveillance inspections were conducted in manufacturing facilities mainly bakeries, beverage factories, maize millers resulting in 173 seizure mainly sealing/seizure of premises due to poor hygiene and this led to the seizure of hundreds of tons of substandard foodstuffs.
These include, among others, 840 metric tons of maize flour which would have been distributed to 280,000 people almost 20% of the COVID-19 relief food beneficiaries.
The prevalence of the substandard goods on the market is still a challenge especially from the informal business thus calling for more efforts in consumer vigilance, market information sharing, partnership at local governments and consumer awareness.
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.
During the year under review, 153,256 inspections of products under compulsory standards meeting 83% of the set target for the year. 62,551 inspections were undertaken under the PVoC program, indicating an increase of 27,000 compared to the previous year which shows an increase in adhering to PVoC requirements which provides a guarantee that the majority of the imported commodities are meeting the requirements of the standards. Without PVoC, too many substandard product that we lack testing capacity would be on the market.
We also expanded UNBS presence at additional border points that include Mirama Hills OSBP; Elegu OSBP and Mpondwe; Coverage of more ICDs and other import clearance points in Uganda and Mombasa. Expansion of UNBS operations to more commodity entry points in the country has led to an increase in the number of declarations inspected. For example in 2014, 80,648 declarations were inspected compared to the 153,250 declaration inspected in 2019/2020
Therefore, increasing UNBS presence at entry points has resulted into a widened eyesight for the prevention of entry of substandard products into Uganda hence enabling fulfilment of the Bureaus mandate of protecting both the consumer and the environment.
In the year under review, a total of 232 metric tonnes of substandard goods worth UGX 2.5 billion were destroyed. The substandard products destroyed were intercepted by UNBS through the import inspection and market surveillance operations.
7.0 Ensuring Accuracy of Measurement Systems
8. ICT and Automation of UNBS Services
UNBS continues to invest in ICT platforms for enhanced service delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic found most of the UNBS services online and this greatly contributed to the institution’s business continuity during the covid-19 lockdown.
9.0 Decentralisation of UNBS Services
In addition to the e-platforms, UNBS continues to decentralise its services to bring service delivery closer to Ugandans. As a result the market surveillance and product certification functions are fully operational in Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara.
The laboratory testing services are to be decentralised too. So far, the testing laboratory in Gulu is nearing completion.
10.0 Focus in FY 2020/2021
UNBS focused efforts will continue with deepening the decentralisation of UNBS services in the country side, 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 2019/2020 registered unprecedented challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.UNBS has however harnessed this opportunity to facilitate local manufacturers in line with the Buy Uganda and Build Uganda (BUBU) policy through offering technical guidance and standards to ensure production of safe and good quality products for all Ugandans.
Eng. Dr. Ben Manyindo
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNBS
October 5th, 2020