The Director General of Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS), Dr Mark Cyubahiro Bagabe, has observed that the standards of products from regional countries need to be reviewed regularly.
Bagabe said that this issue may become a major impediment to the regional economic development, if overlooked.
“Standards of products need to be reviewed from time to time…if not, this may, in itself, become a non-tariff barrier; we, therefore, need to review these products regularly,” he noted.
He said this as the East African Community this week embarks on an exercise to review standards for products produced within the region.
The exercise entails review and/or withdrawal of existing standards, as well as development of new ones.
The exercise will run from January, 27 to February 10 and will include consultative visits to the five EAC Partner State capitals to collect views, starting with Kampala, then Dar es Salaam, Nairobi, Bujumbura, and later Kigali.
During the exercise, Cyubahiro said that they intend to focus on 2,500 priority products from all member countries, including agricultural products and construction materials, citing the two as the most counterfeited.
According to the EAC Director for Trade, Dr Flora Musonda, the EAC Secretariat has compiled proposals for the revision or confirmation (of existing standards) and withdrawal (of outdated standards) and developed 2,500 new standards that cover products traded within the region.
The standards review is done in line with provisions of the Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing (SQMT) EAC SQMT Act of 2006 and the EAC Common Market Protocol.
She says that it is also in accordance with the requirements of international best practices to undertake such reviews after at least every five years of the standards’ existence.
Chapter 13 Article 81 of the EAC Treaty provides for cooperation among Partner States in Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing (SQMT).
At the national level, Cyubahiro pointed out that from this year, RBS would review more 100 standards, ranging from hides and skins, to banana wine making, mining, construction coffee and tea.
“Hides and skins, banana wine and mining are new segments…that’s why we need to give utmost attention,” he noted.
The 15-day exercise will include visits to offices of national standards institutions/bureaus of standards, weights and measures agencies as well as other related bodies.