Standards body developing national quality policy

By Correspondent

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) is in the process of developing a national quality policy to develop and strengthen the national quality infrastructure for accelerated economic growth.

The policy will also enhance export, ensure supply of safe and quality goods and services in the market and contribute towards environmental protection.

Speaking during a KEBS CEO’s roundtable, KEBS Managing Director Charles Ongwae, said the country has been operating without a national quality policy hence hampering the development of quality infrastructure.

“In collaboration with stakeholders, we have developed a Kenya National Quality Policy and we will soon be reaching out to our parent ministry for it to be adopted and implemented,” said Ongwae.

He further noted that his organization is also revising the Standards Act Cap 496 which came into being 43 years ago when KEBS was established.

KEBS has deepened quality assurance, inspection and market surveillance activities to create a level playing field. This is aimed at supporting local products to ensure they meet the requirements of Kenya Standards thus enabling them to trade in the regional and international markets.

“In order to support new initiatives such as the “Big Four” and “Kenya Industrial Transformation Programme”, KEBS will “develop 31 standards for the manufacturing sector to support textile, apparel and leather processing, revise 27 schemes of supervision and control for the leather industry to respond to the concerns raised in the Kenya Leather Industry and initiate the revision of KS 1515 to lower the age of imported vehicles to stimulate local assembly” added Ongwae.

The Chief Guest at the roundtable the Principal Secretary State Department of Investment and Industry, Ms. Betty Maina, also challenged CEOs and KEBS to come up with new innovative strategies that will support the ‘Big Four’ initiative and grow the manufacturing and agro processing sectors by leveraging standards and conformity assessment.

The PS noted that lack of harmonized Standards has in the recent past created a number of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) for Kenyan manufacturers, especially for the food industry.

She urged the stakeholders to tackle issues of food security and agro-processing by developing standards for agro-processing, food safety and development of schemes of supervision and control to improve the final agro-processed products.

“It is against this background that the EAC Industrialization Strategy, among its ideals aims to diversify the manufacturing base and raise local value-added content of resource-based exports to at least 40 percent by 2032. This can be achieved by adoption of standards,” she added.

“The Kenyan industry are spoilt for choice as they have over 9,011 Kenya Standards and 1324 East African harmonized standards that they can access from KEBS Webstore on KEBS website: www.kebs.org” said Ongwae.

Maina, said some unscrupulous traders were disregarding standards hence posing a major risk to the health, safety and environment of the Kenyan populace.

According to a survey carried out by the National Quality Institute, a department at KEBS, only 190 firms are certified to ISO 9001 Quality Management System (QMS) – this implying that the state of quality uptake in Kenya is still low.

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