As the East African Community (EAC) celebrates ten years since its re-establishment, the regional bloc’s bureaus of standards have made an achievement by harmonizing standards of various products.
This was revealed recently in Arusha, by the EAC’s Director General of Customs and Trade, Mr. Peter Kiguta, during the opening of the 14th East African Standards Committee (EASC) meeting.
Mr. Kiguta said the harmonized standards which to date are more than 1500 are there to facilitate trade within the region and not to be a technical barrier to trade. ‘‘Standards are not supposed to be used to frustrate businessmen,’’ he insisted.
He said January this year the Customs Union became operational and by July this year, the Common Market will come into effect - a move which, he said, would facilitate trade.
Prior to the 14th EASC meeting, technical officers from the bureaus of standards of the EAC member states namely Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya held a Technical Sub-Committee meeting on standards harmonization, metrology, testing and quality assurance.
On standards, 22 standards on water quality, sugar, air quality, cassava and potato were discussed and approved by the EASC. On testing the sub-committee recommended for more training in identified areas in order to achieve adequate and competent laboratory personnel, giving priority to new member states, i.e. Rwanda and Burundi as their capacity is still relatively low.
Furthermore, the sub committee recommended for strengthening of analytical skills within the testing laboratories through tailor-made programmes.
On Proficiency Testing (PT), the sub-committee recommended for National Standards Bodies (NSBs) to carry out more awareness and marketing for the PT schemes in order to attract more laboratories and to ensure sustainability of the PT schemes.
The Technical Sub Committee on Quality Assurance among other things recommended that the EASC adopts the harmonized procedures for use in partner states during market surveillance and import inspection which were also approved.