Tanzania needs to invest heavily in standards development if it is to realize the dream of being an industrial economy, the Director of standards development at Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), Edna Ndumbano said.
Standards are documents that contain technical and quality requirements that products, services, processes, and systems have to meet.
She says that standards are 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.
The expert says that standards 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.
She says 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.
Ndumbaro says the standards Acts also requires them to review all standards every five years, adding that currently, standards watchdogs has reviewed 1922 standards which can be used by manufacturers in productions.
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 she says the 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.
She says they are requested to go through it and send their comments regarding its technical contents, Suggestions which entail a revision of text should indicate the preferred be quoted against each comment.
Regarding benefits, she says 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 products 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.
National and International involvement TBS, she says in a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and represents Tanzania in all international standards work is crucial.
According to her, the watchdog is also a member of the East African Standards Committee and South African Development Community Committee of Experts for standards, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology.
The bureau is also a participating member to the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commision, 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.
Explaining about her directorate, she says it coordinates the formulation of standards through various Technical Committees which are under the supervision of eight Divisional Committees.
The Directorate of standards development is divided into two sections which are engineering standards and process technology standards.
The Engineering standards division is one of two departments responsible for the preparation of Tanzania Standards, which is among the core functions of the Bureau. The department is constituted of four sections covering major sectors of the economy in the engineering field.
TBS is the statutory national standards body for Tanzania, mandated to formulate, promulgate and implement national standards.
The Bureau has an established national standardization system through which national standards are formulated. This system is based on the ‘consensus principle’ which works through the use of technical committees.
These committees draw members from all stakeholder groups, including industries, government ministries, and institutions, research institutions, higher learning institutions, business organizations, and consumers.