Assistant minister of Trade and Industry on Monday called upon the local industries to adhere to internationally acceptable standards in goods and services, insisting such a development would allay fears on the vulnerable consumers who are increasingly demanding assurance of proven and acceptable quality standards.
At a breakfast meeting in Gaborone, organized for Rob Steele, the International Organisation for Stardardisation secretary general, Duke Lefhoko noted that for the local industries to compete in already highly volatile markets, they should take heed of the importance attached to standardization and quality assurance for them to stay afloat.
“For us to compete in already highly volatile markets, our industries should take heed of the importance attached to standardization and quality assurance if they are to survive,” Lefhoko noted.
“They must produce goods and services of high quality because consumers in the global markets are increasingly demanding assurance and acceptable quality standards,” he added.
He attributes globalization to the current trend which has altered the nature of business such that it is only goods and services of the highest quality that can yield benefits in both the local and international markets.
“All of us should therefore focus our efforts on improving our production method with a view to adopting and adapting acceptable productive practices.”
It is against this backdrop the Ministry of Trade is in the process of developing a National Quality Policy through which all sectors of the economy will use a reference framework while pursuing their objectives and goals.
To buttress Botswana’s commitment into standardization, the assistant minister relied heavily on BOBS extensive works with national, regional and international standard bodies aimed at ensuring Botswana’s interests are well represented in the development of standards.
“BOBS provides interested parties in the country with access to standards. Initiatives that include training, workshops. Seminars are held with stakeholders to sensitise and educate them on matters relating to standardization,” he insisted.
In today’s world, the assistant minister maintains standardization is crucial for the commercialization of technologies, a strong guarantee for sustainable industrial development and a solid technical foundation for the overall competitiveness of a nation.
In this regard, Botswana’s standardization efforts have resulted in the promotion of BOBS from an “ordinary” member to a “participating” member at ISO. Furthermore, BOBS has in the past successfully chaired the ISO sub-committee of developing countries for a three year term.
As a country, Botswana continues to participate in various ISO technical committees, the ISO general assembly and ISO committee for conformity assessment.
“To date, we have through the efforts of BOBS developed over seven hundred standards in quest to create standardization as a function of industry operations. These standards are developed based on ISO, regional or other national standards to ensure compatibility of these standards with specifications acceptable in other markets,” Lefhoko observed.
“The over 700 standards which have been developed are used in the areas of testing, certification, calibration and training services at BOBS. Externally, these standards are used by various regulatory services and by the industry in their daily activities. These standards facilitate market access for products and services.”
Whilst Botswana considers the promotion of use of standards to be of paramount importance, consumer protection can not be compromised in terms of safety, health and environmental issues that relate to the standards that are developed.
“To address these issues, Import Inspection Regulations have been promulgated to ensure protection of our consumers and environment,” the assistant minister declared.
For his part, Steele lamented the current financial turmoil, which has adversely affected the world trade, adding such a predicament calls for the world concerted efforts in order to achieve acceptable quality standards.
“Standards help provide confidence for both the seller and consumer. By selling your products you need to have confidence without which the market closes. Our dream therefore should be to have one statement of standardization ÔÇô a certificate portraying us all over the world we conform to standardization,” the ISO Secretary General said.
Relating to the national vision, Lefhoko argued Batswana aspirations espoused in the document would remain in the pipeline and not accomplished unless marked measures on standardization are enforced, particularly pertaining to a pillar of a prosperous, productive and innovation nation by the year 2016.
“This pillar motivates and inspires us to double our efforts in ensuring that the goods and services we produce meet the quality assurance standards that BOBS and other similar standard bodies world wide expect. Standardisation and conformity therefore become significant in the manner in which we do business.”
He concluded: “I would therefore call upon all our captains of business and industry to double their efforts in ensuring that the goods and services they produce meet the ISO standards and to partner with government so as to build strong strategic alliances that will enable us to realize the pillars of our national vision of prosperous, productive and innovation nation by 2016.”