Government warns businesses on standards

Uganda Export Promotions Board chairperson Maria Odido.

What you need to know:

Mandate. Uganda National Bureau of Standards is in charge of standards and product certification.

Kampala. Businesses that ignore standards are doing so at their own peril, a senior official at the Ministry of Trade, has said.
In general terms, standards are widely accepted, agreed upon, or established means of determining what something should be - in this case for the products produced by local businesses, no matter the size of the enterprise.
Speaking during a meeting to train Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) on standards, the director for Trade, Mr Sam Ssenkungu, told the participantsm - most of whom are small business owners, that survival of their businesses will depend on the certified quality of their products.

“Many MSMEs continue to produce without standards yet if they embrace it (standards), it will enhance their businesses,” Mr Ssenkungu who was representing the Ministry of Trade permanent secretary told the participants attending the training on standardisation yesterday in Nakawa, Kampala.
He continued: “Government is encouraging increased exports in the regional countries and for that to be successful, you must change your attitudes and embrace standards immediately or else you will remain uncompetitive.”
Speaking in the same meeting, the executive director Uganda Small Scale Industries Association, Mr John Walugembe, said the reason that quality certification marks are expensive is more of an excuse.

He said that cost should be considered as investment because in the long run it renders the business the niche and a competitive edge that those without quality certification do not have.
He said: “If you have a quality mark confirming that your standards are good to go that means you respect your customers and value their health and wellbeing.
Narrating her experience, the managing director of Bee Natural and also the chairperson of Uganda Export Promotions Board, Ms Maria Odido, said standards of products tells a story of the producer of the products.
She said: “Your product is who you are. And the standard of the product is what talks about you as the owner. Imagine if your standards are wanting, what do you think people (market) will make of you? So standards are crucial.”

She said domestic market should be treated with proper quality before thinking of external market.
Speaking about cost, she said the standards body can spread the payment over a period of time for those seeking to certify their products standards. Like Mr Walugembe, she said achieving standards means you care about your product to a point you are willing to invest in it quality marks and certifications.

Product certification
Involves the issuance of a certificate or mark (or both) by a third party to demonstrate that a specific product meets a defined set of requirements such as safety, fitness for use and/or interchangeability characteristics for that product, usually specified in a standard.