The Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Dr. Ben Manyindo delivered UNBS’ annual Performance report for the FY 2019/2020 to the public on Monday 5th October 2020, at the Uganda Media Center in Kampala.
UNBS’ core mandate is to develop, promote and enforce standards to ensure competitiveness of locally manufactured products and to protect the health and safety of consumers and the environment against substandard products.
Over the past one year, UNBS undertook activities in accordance with approved work programmes and budget. The activities were aimed at improving competitiveness of Ugandan products to access regional and international markets, improving the quality of products on the market, ensuring accuracy in measurement systems to promote fair trade and improving public awareness on quality standards.
The total approved budget for FY 2019/20 was UGX 68.9 Billion of which UGX 59.7 Billion was released by end of the Financial Year. The Bureau generated and remitted Non Tax Revenue UGX38.2 Billion to the Consolidated Fund during the year which constitutes 64% of the released budget during the year.
‘The year has presented an unprecedented challenge imposed by COVID-19 that has made UNBS rethink the way of doing business. However, we have used this crisis to harness opportunities for businesses seeking standardisation services as below’;
2.0 Certification of Products required in the fight against COVID – 19
I. Sanitizers: By March 2020, only two companies had been certified to manufacture Hand sanitisers.
However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of manufacturers dramatically increased. Accordingly, by 30th June 2020, 209 companies (with 254 brands) had been certified.
II.Food distribution: UNBS deployed a full time (seven days a week) field team comprising of 25 staff at the OPM stores in Nakawa where the food supplies were being delivered. UNBS also maintained 20 staff at its laboratories, working 7seven days a week, to ensure expeditious testing of the samples of food being delivered to the laboratory for quality and safety testing. Of this, maize had an 80% compliance rate, while dry beans had a compliance rate of 77%.
III. Non-medical Face Masks: UNBS developed standards for facemasks and was able to certify over 40 companies to produce non-medical facemasks by June 2020. It is mandatory for anyone above the age of six to wear a facemask in public space.
Improved competiveness of locally manufactured products to access export market
During the FY 2019/2020, UNBS undertook Product Certification and Management Systems Certification to improve the quality of locally manufactured products so that they are able to access regional and international markets.
We recorded an increase from 1350 products certification permits in FY2018/19 to 2705 permits in FY2019/20.
And 62 permits under system certification. All UNBS certified products were able to access the wider EAC market.
This is a second year into the implementation of the UNBS Distinctive Mark, 2018 regulation.
The new regulation made it mandatory for products covered by compulsory standards to be certified and issued with a distinctive mark before they are allowed on the market.
As a result, we witnessed an exponential increase in the number of Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) seeking certification.
During the FY 2019/20 we registered 1168 MSMEs and visited 304 MSMEs for on-site technical assistance and gap analysis. 1068 MSMEs visited UNBS and were provided with technical advisory services (compared to 929 MSMEs in FY2018/19), to build their capacity to apply standards and produce products that conform to standards thus contributing to the government’s export promotion strategy.
The shortfall was due to; failure by a number of MSMEs to pay fees for both testing and auditing despite registration, failure by MSMEs to address gaps in conformity to standards identified during certification, low technology base among MSMEs, Shortage of staff to handle the increased number of applicants to assist MSMEs through the certification process and of course challenges imposed on the sector by Covid 19 pandemic.
UNBS would like to further appeal to Government to provide a specialised fund to support MSMEs certification, competitiveness and access to regional and international markets.