By Dr Ben Manyindo
We are happy and excited whenever we buy or receive a quality product or service in the right quantity and in time. Behind that product or service, there is a team of men and women who have made quality and standards their commitment in branding their business. We congratulate the proprietors of such business in Uganda.
Without standards the world would be a sea of confusion and difficult to live in. Can you imagine the accidents and confusion with some traffic keeping left and others on the right? Have you ever experienced a need for your phone to be charged and you can’t find the right charger? How about food poisoning because of noncompliance to food safety requirements? The list is endless and can go on and on with the bottom line being the need to embrace, implement and comply with standards. Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is the national lead agency of government in ensuring that standards, quality assurance, metrology and testing is undertaken for consumer health, safety, wealth and the environment. As custodians of standards and guardian of quality, UNBS National Standards Council, management and staff wish to take this opportunity to thank very much all our partners for your contribution and support to UNBS.
As we come to the end of the year 2017, it is the time to reflect on the achievements that the UNBS family and all our stakeholders have made towards making our country Uganda a better place. Improved quality of life is the desirable goal and Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has a major stake in realisation of this cause.
In 2017, the UNBS staff continued to provide the necessary services in their areas of their mandate and in particular, standards development, certification, market surveillance, imports inspection, laboratory testing and metrology. Support continues to be provided by Human resource, finance, ICT, procurement, legal, public relations and administration. At the close of FY 2016/17, Government had released 86% of UNBS budget that matched UNBS performance that was rated at 86%.
Some of the key highlights of 2017 included the approval by the National Standards Council (the governing board) of the UNBS strategic plan 2015-2020 that was aligned to the National Development Plan II and the trade and industry sector development plan. New ICT solutions and innovations continued to be incorporated in the UNBS processes and procedures to improve on service delivery. To buttress the achievements achieved by the organisation, the Council approved a Risk management policy based on ISO 31000 that is now under implementation.
As we commit to serve you better, UNBS has developed a client service charter that details our services, your obligation, timelines and costs applicable. Together with the client service charter, UNBS has developed a customer complaint handling procedure that details how complaints are handled and resolved. These two instruments are on our website www.unbs.go.ug under the drop down button of ‘About Us’ and will provide feedback in the management of client relationship management for continuous improvement.
Despite the challenges of insufficient staff and limited laboratory infrastructure, the UNBS remained solid and focussed on the following areas:
- Reduction of substandard goods in the market place so that all Ugandans can enjoy improved quality of life. Increased partnership with consumers and other regulatory agencies continue to be the main strategy on this objective. Stakeholder engagement continue to be intensified as well as sanctions and prosecution of offenders in order to enhance increased compliance to quality standards.
- Leveraging on ICT to improve UNBS efficiency by designing and using electronic platforms for service delivery and continuous feedback from our stakeholders. This is to ensure that our services are FASTER, SIMPLER AND BETTER.
- Implementation of Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy by supporting Industry certification and especially MSME in growing their business to access regional and international market while promoting fair trade.
- Main streaming risk management in UNBS processes and procedures so as to enhance transparency and accountability and promoting the UNBS core values of professionalism, integrity, customer focus, innovation and teamwork.
- Tapping on synergies with other agencies while focussed on increased resource mobilization by engaging government and partners to enhance UNBS’ capacity, visibility and relevance in delivering on its mandate.
- Decentralisation of UNBS services to Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara in FY 2018/19 to enable quicker access to UNBS services and improved efficiency in service delivery.
As we break for the festive season, let all of us commit ourselves to quality standards. As we shop and buy, check expiry dates and packaging integrity of the products you buy, look out for quality marks (Q) on locally produced goods, DO NOT BUY FROM HAWKERS, GET A RECEIPT FOR ITEMS YOU BUY FROM KNOWN SUPPLIERS; AND AVOID NIGHT AND HURRIED SHOPPING AS THIS PROVIDES AVENUES FOR FAKE GOODS. In the event of being cheated and sold substandard goods or underweight products, please contact UNBS on toll free line number 0800 133 133.
On behalf of the National Standards Council, management and staff of UNBS, I wish all of us a Happy Xmas 2017 and a full year of happiness, improved business environment and prosperity in 2018. May God’s blessing never depart from you all.
Dr Ben MANYINDO is Executive Director of UNBS