The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) is to harmonise its quality standards with those of other East African Community (EAC) partner sates by mid 2009.
The national body, in charge of all activities regarding the development of standards, quality assurance and metrology has started gathering public views on the harmonisation of regional standards with the existing national standards.
Anastase Kimonyo, the Director General of RBS, said public views will form a basis for evaluating other member states’ standards while the harmonization process is going on.
The move to harmonise is in line with the requirements of the East African Community (EAC) Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Metrology and Testing (SQMT) Act 2006.
Kimonyo said that the jurisdiction is critical in ensuring goods produced in the region meet the necessary standards.
He added that having a common standardised procedure in the region will enhance free movement of goods in the region as will be obliged by the Common Market, currently being discussed.
“All goods will bear standard marks issued by a partner state with a certificate proving that the goods have been checked and approved,” he said.
The mark issued by any of the regional bureaus will signify quality and assurance on product safety. It is believed to protect regional manufacturers from inferior products.
Kimonyo said that harmonisation of standards is good for the competitiveness of EAC economies, and will facilitate the penetration of EAC products to the rest of Africa.
The EAC believes that once synchronized, the Act will translate into increased opportunities for EAC member states’ companies in international technology and encourage regional and international trade.
Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania, have so far gone a step ahead in harmonising some standards with a deadline of December 2008.
Manufacturers in these states affix the EAC basic standardisation mark of quality stickers on their products with standard quality mark.
Having joined the economic bloc mid last year, Rwanda and Burundi are yet to comply with the requirements.
This will permit marked products to easily access the EAC’s market which boasts of a combined population of over 90 million people.
Tanzania is said to be leading the way by inspecting and granting quality marks to its manufacturers.
By mid this year, over 1,500 products manufactured in Tanzania bear the country’s marks compared to Uganda’s 900 brands and Kenya’s 150 brands that bear the optional Diamond mark of quality.
The quality mark shall make it more costly for pre-packaged products imported into the country, which must also comply with the standards in addition to the Certificate of Conformity (CoC) under the Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) programme.
This also comes a month when the RBS discussed some clauses in the standardisation pact signed by the three founder members of the EAC economic bloc.