Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has developed a simplified literature, breaking down technical requirements into simple English as well as translating them into some of the widely spoken local languages in the country, beginning with Luganda lingo.
According to the Standard body, this development is intended to further enhance standards of the products churned out by the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) whose back is what the country’s economic development, according to the government, is premised upon.
Over the years MSMEs, substantial number of whom are incapable of properly interpreting UNBS technical requirements, have been expressing discontentment over the usage of “technical language” contained in the standard requirements and guidelines, describing them as difficult to comprehend.
It should be noted that MSME spreads across all the country’s economic sectors with 52 per cent in service sector, 33 per cent in commerce and trade, and 10 per cent in manufacturing while 8 per cent falls in other sectors.
MSMEs are the key drivers in fostering innovation, wealth creation and job creation with over 2.5 million employments making it the largest employer in the country. The MSMEs Enterprises account for approximately 90 per cent of the entire private sector, with over 80 per cent of manufactured output contributing 18 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to the ministry of trade data.
While rolling out the simplified guidelines in local languages, with the sole purpose of improving the quality of MSMES products, the UNBS Deputy Executive Director in charge of standards, Ms Patricia Bageine Ejalu said: “The simplification of standards will help MSMEs better understand their mandate in ensuring that products and services in our country Uganda are safe.”
She continues: “This will also build export capacity because it will ease certification of all MSMEs’ products as well as ensure that what they produce for export is of good quality.”
With support from DFID through the Commonwealth Standards Network (CSN) project and the lead implementer British Standards Institution (BSI), UNBS simplified and translated some of the key but technical requirement pertaining to hygiene and labelling standards; US 28 EAS 39:2002: Code of practice for hygiene in the food and drink manufacturing industry and US EAS 38:2014: Labelling of pre-packaged foods - General requirements.
The Executive Secretary at the Uganda Small Scale Industries Association (USSIA), Ms Veronica Namwanje, said this development has been long overdue, adding that now that they have been simplified and translated into local language (beginning with Luganda for now and in a very near future other widely spoken local languages including Luo, Runya-kitara and even Kiswahili)
Of the 14,000 brochures of simplified standards guidelines printed by UNBS, 7000 are in the English language and 7,000 in the Luganda language.
The development is aimed at improving market access for MSMEs’ products both locally and internationally
UNBS is a statutory body responsible for developing and promoting standards, quality products and services to facilitate fair trade, promote local industries and protect consumers.