BY JOSEPH MUDINGU
The Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) is the National Standards Body established by the Government of Rwanda, whose mandate is to develop and publish National Standards, carry out research in the areas of standardisation, and to disseminate information on standards, technical regulations related to standards and Conformity Assessment, Metrology for the setting up of measurement standards, among others.
The Board was created from the old Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) after decoupling regulatory and non-regulatory functions and upgrading of Units into Divisions.
According to the Director General of RSB, Raymond Murenzi, during an interview with the New Times, the intention was to have an institution that can respond to the changing business landscape in Rwanda and beyond.
Caption:Raymond Murenzi, Director General of RSB
RSB is now a service provider while the standards enforcement functions and inspections have moved to an independent body.
The Director General further informed that RSB has had many achievements in standards development in the country and the institution has had an involvement in international standardization activities to enhance competitiveness and provide the basis for consumer protection, health and safety in the last seven years.
Rwanda Standards Board has in total developed more than 2100 National Standards and of which more than 1,937 standards were developed or revised between 2010 and 2017.
“Those standards are in the areas of Food, Agriculture, Services, Chemicals and consumer products, Environment, Health and Safety, Building and Civil engineering, Mechanical engineering, Information Technology, Multimedia and Telecommunication, Cosmetics, Toiletries and surface active agents, Pharmaceutical products, Textiles and Leather Engineering.” explained Murenzi.
Standards are benchmarks for quality and safety. They facilitate trade by enhancing product performance, safety, productivity and customer confidence in the product or service. They are vehicles for dissemination of knowledge, innovative advances in technology, and sharing of good management and conformity assessment practices.
Achievements in quality testing
With the aim to support trade, industry and consumer protection activities through providing services that assist in evaluating the safety and quality of goods and services, RSB performs quality testing through the National Quality Testing Laboratories Division; one of the five divisions that constitute the Rwanda Standards Board.
The National Quality Testing Laboratories are equipped with High tech equipment’s and managed in accordance to ISO/IEC 17025 (General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories) International Standard.
In the last seven years, RSB has established laboratories in the areas of Material Engineering, Polymers and Leather, Textiles, Chemistry, Food and Microbiology and Medical Devices laboratory testing.
“This is a key part of the process of product certification which ensures consumer safety, customer confidence in quality of the product tested, creates value addition to the product, increases international market access for that particular commodity.The tests on products are carried out against national standards, international standards, specific government and other client specifications” says Murenzi.
RSB number of testing laboratories has increased from four laboratories in 2010 (namely: Microbiology, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry and Food & Agriculture) to 12 laboratories in 2017 (namely: Microbiology, Inorganic Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Food & Agriculture, Petroleum, Mycotoxin, Building materials, Polymer and Leather, Non Destructive, Destructive Mechanical, Pharmaceutical active ingredient, Pharmaceutical elemental and inorganic impurities.
The laboratory testing scope increased from 113 in 2010 to 295 parameters in 2017 and the number of samples tested per annum increased from 936 samples in 2010 to 3605 samples in 2017.
Outstanding achievements in certification of Made in Rwanda products
According to the Director General of RSB, the institution has had a lot of achievements as far as certification of products is concerned.
By June 2010 only two domestic products were awarded certification marks. From 2010 onward, efforts to certify Made in Rwanda products were multiplied and at the end of the year 2010-2011, 36 products were certified and all of them were food products.
‘Since then the number of certified products has been increasing every year and areas diversified. The number of certified products increased steadily to sixty five (65) in 2011-2012, one hundred and nineteen (119) in the year 2012-2013, one hundred seventy eight (178) in the year 2013-2014, two hundred and fifty (250) in the year 2014-2015, three hundred and thirty one (331) in the financial year 2015-2016, and four hundred and twenty (420) for the year 2016-2017” explained Murenzi
Diversification of certified products
In the year 2010 all certified products were food products like food and feed products; including cereal based products, fruits based processed products, milk and milk products, water, alcoholic drinks, non-alcoholic soft drinks, nuts, honey, coffee, tea and animal feeds but since then there has been diversification in various products
“Today, RSB has certified products like construction materials; including cement, steel bars, iron sheets, pipes, bricks, tubes, sections, profiles, chemical products; including Cosmetics and detergents, liquid soaps, consumer products, including mattresses, agrochemical products such as pesticides and paper based products including toilet papers, sanitary towels.” enthused Murenzi
RSB’s system certification
Besides product certification, RSB also offers system certification services. The services are offered in Quality Management Systems (QMS), Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), Food Safety Management Systems (FSMS) and Environmental Management Systems (EMS).The first system was certified in May 2011 against ISO 9001-Quality Management Systems.
In 2012, RSB went into partnership with British Standards Institution (BSI) under the support of Trade Mark East Africa to support SMEs in Agro-processing for certification. In 2013 an awareness session was conducted on Food Safety Management Systems according to HACCP throughout the Country and 41 SMEs were identified. Out of 41 SMEs, 24 with potential to Export were selected and capacity building of the selected Enterprises started in November, 2013.
It took until December 2014 for the first enterprise to get certified against HACCP . Todate there are 31 certified systems; 18 HACCP, six (7) FSMS and six (6) QMS.
Achievements in Metrology
According to Murenzi, over the past 7 years, metrology services focused on the national priorities to support doing business and promote fair trade.
“Many of these services include: calibration of industrial, medical and hotel equipment’s, verification of instrument used in trade, medical and utilities (water, electricity, gas and fuel), pre-packaging controls, establishing new laboratories and upgrading the existing laboratories, establishment, operation and maintenance of the Quality Management System (QMS) and capacity building of National Metrology Division staff and stakeholders.” he noted.
The Director General went on to say that in the years that followed, laboratories were established and others upgraded, and those include: Balance laboratory, pre-package control, AC/DC resistors to ensure accurate measurement in electricity, 2 surface thermocouples were established to upgrade the calibration of temperature chambers in hotels, medical and industries and blood pressure calibrator procured to ensure accurate measurement in medical diagnostics.
Others that were established in the last seven years include: Ionizing radiation monitoring Laboratory/dosimetry metrology laboratory established to cover the x-ray and gamma radiation in health sector, mining and environment exposure survey, Temperature Laboratory, Volume Laboratory, Dimension Laboratory, Power and energy Laboratory, Moisture calibration Laboratory, Verification and pre-packages control lLboratories and Fuel Dispensing Pump Verification.
According to the Director General of RSB, all these achievements that have been registered at RSB are a result of good governance spearheaded by his Excellency Paul Kagame, the President of the Republic of Rwanda.
“Good governance in Rwanda, having inspired collaboration spirit among public and private sector as well as civil society towards sustainable development of the country, is at the centrepiece of all those achievements. Introducing the culture of standardization has led to creating a good image for Rwandan products in regional and international markets, and all this was made possible by twinning the good political climate, good governance and economic development tunder the stewardship of H.E Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda ” Murenzi added.