Why Tanzania should invest in standards development.
Standards are documents that contain technical and quality requirements that products, services, processes, and systems have to meet.
Standards are also yardsticks against which goods and services may be judged and they help to judge if products, services and processes are good or bad, right or wrong, safe or unsafe, acceptable or unacceptable, fit for use or unfit for use, satisfactory or unsatisfactory.
They are developed by interested parties based on consensus and make an enormous contribution to most aspects of people’s lives, although very often that contribution is invisible. When standards meet expectations, people tend to take it for granted and it is only with its absence that its importance is brought to the fore.
For instance, producers or users of products soon notice their importance when the products in question turn out to be poor of quality, or not fit for consumptions.
Standards play critical roles in our daily and national lives by raising levels of quality, safety, reliability, and efficiency.
They provide economic benefits in various areas such as manufacturing or production, testing, environmental quality assessment, health and safety issues, assessments of quality goods and services, mining, and agriculture. Other areas include trade and commerce engineering and architecture, export and import business, inspection and certification or accreditation.
They work for the safety and convenience of all, ensuring that process, services and products are safe, ethical and easy to use, thereby making the world a safer place to live. Standards are useful to conformity assessment professionals, regulatory bodies, governments, consumers, business community and to the society at large.
Tanzania`s Standards Acts of 2009 requires Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) to review all standards every five years, and currently the standards watchdog has reviewed 1922 standards which can be used by manufacturers in production. TBS is the statutory national standards body for Tanzania, mandated to formulate, promulgate and implement national standards.
The revised standards include products standards, management system standards, test methods, codes of hygiene. The standards cover various sectors of the economy including food and agriculture, chemicals, textiles and leather, engineering, environment and general techniques.
The standard formulae are voluntary, however, if a standard covers a product that can affect health, safety, the environment or can have a significant impact to the national economy, such standard is published as a compulsory standard.
Narrating on the standards preparation process involves various stakeholders drawn from higher learning institutions, private sector, ministries, regulatory authorities and TBS as secretariat.
According to procedures for preparation of Tanzania standards, the draft standards are circulated for stakeholders comment. They are requested to go through them and send their comments regarding their technical contents and suggestions which entail a revision of text should indicate the preferred be quoted against each comment.
Regarding benefits, standards provide many benefits to all sectors of the economy namely trade, manufacturing, business and consumer. They facilitate trade by making products competitive in the local and International market and reduce or remove technical barriers.
In manufacturing standards provide information and guidelines for the manufacture of goods and the provision of services thereby ensuring efficiency and quality output. They are tools of market access and when applied effectively enhance product performance.
Standards open doors to national and international businesses on the global scale. They ensure that businesses become sustainable as they are able to attract and retain markets for their products and services. This implies increased output, business expansion, generation of employment, large exports volumes and ultimate higher foreign exchange earnings.
They also serve as protection for public health safety, guaranteeing good quality products and services, hence value for money.
TBS is a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and represents Tanzania in all international standards work. The watchdog is also a member of the East African Standards Committee (EASC) and South African Development Community Committee of Experts for Standards, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology.
The bureau is also a participating member to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) /World Health Organization (WHO) Codex Alimentarius Commission, which is there to ensure that worldwide food standards are available for protecting the health of consumers and ensuring fair practices in food trade. This has been done to ensure that Tanzania is fully represented in all technical issues concerning standards and quality.
Source: The Exchange