The government will soon establish an inspectorate to prevent dumping of substandard products into the market, a senior government official has said.
The National Inspectorate and Competition Authority (NICA) will take up quality inspection of products currently undertaken by the Rwanda Bureau of Standards as well as anti-competitive behaviour in trade that is overseen by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
The RBS Director General, Mark Bagabe Cyubahiro, said his institution has been overwhelmed in developing, disseminating, educating stakeholders on the value of quality and safety standards, while at the same time, enforcing standards through inspection of imports, industry and market surveillance.
“In essence, RBS has been combining non-regulatory (standards development) and regulatory functions (standards enforcement via inspections), indicating a conflict of interest,” he explained.
Bagabe said the separation of regulatory and non-regulatory functions would translate into more efficiency using more and skillful staff.
He is optimistic that the efficiency through separation of powers, staff numbers and quality through training will be reflected in the market of quality products.
Staffing of inspection body is projected to be an ongoing process with an initial 45 hired in the financial year 2012/13 with the number set to rise to 125 by 2015/2016, while RBS employees will go up from current 84 to 249 at the same period.
“This will translate into better uptake of quality and safety standards and certification of more Rwanda products and services enabling these to be more competitive on the local and global markets,” he stressed.
There are 5,000 priority standards that have to be aligned with EAC standards and only 1,500 have been aligned, a challenge that is hampering trade within the region, a move attributed to lack of awareness on the importance of certification and complying with international standards.
Available information from RBS indicates that since 2002, RBS has certified only 60 products with 29 products having been certified last year, with over 700 products and services standards identified by RBS.
To date, RBS has only six staffers deployed at the country’s border points of Rusumo bordering Tanzania in Eastern Province, Kagitumba on the Rwanda-Uganda border in Eastern Province Gatuna, Cyanika border in Northern Province that borders Uganda, as well as Rubavu and Rusizi that border –the DR Congo.
It is reported that with the establishment of NICA, staff numbers would rise at the existing borders as well as new border posts including Buziba, Nemba, Kanyaru Ruhwa, Kamanyola and Rusizi II in order to prevent dumping of substandard products into the country.
The decision is part of the implementation of the 2010 Rwanda Quality Policy which stipulates the reform of Rwanda National Quality infrastructure.
The reforms include the proposed architectural design of Rwanda quality infrastructure which constitutes of National Standards Body (NSB), National Quality Testing Laboratories (NQTL), and National Certification Services (NCS) with an affiliated National Metrology Organisation (NMO).
“It is envisioned that the four may have an arching management to allow for more efficient, cost-effective transition to independent bodies if proved necessary,” Bagabe said.
The reforms are tailored towards reducing substandard products and improving competitiveness of local food exports to domestic, regional and global markets.
RBS says there has been a significant decline in sub standard or counterfeit products on the local market due to the efforts of the standards body.