KIGALI - The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) is set to undergo massive changes following a new national quality policy approved by the Cabinet this week.
The new policy in line with the country’s goal of enhancing efficiency and effectiveness of National Quality Infrastructure (NQI), institutions will see radical transformation of structures and management systems of the body in the next five years at a cost of Rwf30bn.
Addressing the press yesterday, the Director General of RBS, Dr. Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, said that the restructuring exercise will see the creation and realignment of the existing institutions into several bodies and also triple the capacity of the body.
“The new structure will see RBS become the National Standards Body (NSB) which will be comprised of the National Standards Institute (NSI), National Quality Testing Laboratories (NQTL) and the National Certification Services (NCS),”
“It will be responsible for the development of national standards as well as conformity assessment (testing and certification) services. The NBS will also be responsible of issuing SPS certificates on behalf of MINAGRI,” said Cyubahiro.
He added that the new policy is aimed at improving quality standards in the country to match with other countries as the world continues to undergo globalisation.
Cyubahiro further added that the new quality policy aims at addressing constraints and issues which include; conflicting or inexistence of legislations creating overlaps across agencies and ministries, which leads to lengthy and costly transaction times, inefficiency and waste of resources.
The new policy is inline with the country’s ambitious targets for growth and poverty reduction in its vision 2020 and establishing a market oriented economy supported by increase in industrial and agricultural productivity, value addition and export promotion among others.
According to Cyubahiro, the policy will enable the country to effectively compete in regional and international markets and also take advantage of the opportunities offered by the multilateral trading system offered by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other regional bodies.
The new structure
Once restructured the new standards body will house the National Metrology Organization (NMO) comprising the National Metrology Institute (NMI) and the Legal Metrology Department (LMD).
The NMI provides calibration and maintenance services while the LMD provides verification (testing) and type approval of measuring equipment.
The NMO will be separated later when capacities and means have been fully developed, the NSB remaining with the NSI, NQRL and NCS only.
Inspection activities currently under the NSB will be transferred to the National Inspectorate Board to avoid conflict of interest. The NSB shall report to the Ministry responsible for Trade and Industry.
The National Inspectorate Board will be an autonomous body responsible for carrying out inspections to protect the public and the environment from dangerous, counterfeited and low quality products and services.
It will provide professional and independent inspection services in all sectors throughout the supply chain to meet specific needs of regulators, manufacturers, suppliers of goods and services and any other interested party.
The other part will be the Rwanda Accreditation Services (RAS) which will be responsible for accreditation of private and public Conformity Assessment Services Providers.
According to Cyubahiro, the standards body which has about 100 workers has been facing stiff challenges of capacity required to supervise and monitor standards of products entering in and out of the country and other consumables.
He added that as a result many traders have been taking advantage of the weaknesses of RBS to either sell substandard, expired or counterfeit goods, adding that it will change with the new policy in place.