Younger generation targeted for standards awareness

IN a calculated effort aimed to create awareness of standardization to the young generation, Tanzania Bureau of Standards has organized an essay competition for secondary schools to mark this year's World Standards Day.

“We want to impart knowledge to the young men and women on the importance of standards in their lives,” says TBS Director of Standards Development Ms Agnes Njau Mneney.

“The aim is to ensure that awareness of standardization reaches the majority people at the grassroots level,” she says.

Ms Mneney said another essay competition for higher learning institutions is planned for January next year during celebrations to mark African Standards Day.

TBS in collaboration with the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation have also organised a continental level exhibition to be held in the tourist town of Arusha whose aim is to promote intra-African trade, Ms Mneney said in an interview.

She said since the beginning of this year TBS has reconstituted technical committees to prepare standards in such sectors as agriculture and food, chemicals, environment, electrical engineering, building and mechanical engineering to ensure the participation of various stakeholders from higher-learning institutions, parastatals, industries, consumers and product control authorities.

According Ms Mneney, this task was completed in December last year followed by a two-day training for chairpersons of the reconstituted committees to broaden their knowledge on preparation of standards and the participation of committee members on the process of preparing international as well as regional standards.


This year, Ms Mneney said TBS completed establishment of committees to prepare standards in the mining sector. These committees officially began work in June.

Similarly, the bureau, in collaboration with the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority are working out procedures to prepare standards in the electronic and telecommunication sector.

The bureau also has plans to enhance its participation in regional standardization committees for the East Africa Community, African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).

Standards have a greater use in everyday life. They are important vehicles in trade facilitation, environmental protection and the protection of health and safety.

According to ISO/IEC Guide 2:1996, a standard is a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognised body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of orders in a given context.

Ms Mneney says standards should be based on the consolidated results of science, technology and experience and aimed at the promotion of optimum community benefits.

She says the responsibility of standardization is to define requirements to be met by products, to facilitate interchangeability of technical components and that standards are a means of communication.

Other obligations of the Standards Development directorate is oversee National Standards and to ensure that standards announced by the Minister responsible for standardization are superior to all others.

At the international level, ISO Codex Alimentarius (WHO/FAO) and IEC are responsible for developing international standards while at the zonal or regional level, there are committees in the East African Community, Southern Africa Development Community, ARSO, European Committee for Standardization (CEN), and Pan American Standards Commission (COPANT).

At the national there are responsible committees, for example, from the TBS, Kenya Standards Bureau or British Standards Institution.

Standards fundamentally are documents that contain technical and quality requirements that products, services, processes and systems have to meet. Standards are, therefore, ‘yardsticks’ against which goods and services may be judged.

Ms Mneney says standards are tools which help people 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 not satisfactory.

“Standards are developed by interested parties based on consensus. They make enormous contribution to most aspects of our lives, although very often that contribution is invisible,” she explains.

“When standards meet our expectations, we tend to take standards for granted. It is when there is an absence of standards when their importance is brought home.  For instance, producers or users of products soon notice their importance when the products in question, turn out to be of poor quality, or not fit for consumption.”

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.

Standards generally provide the necessary assurance that goods and services are of good quality, promote the growth of industry, facilitate trade, enhance   consumer’s   protection, and underpin sustainable development. They work for the safety and convenience for all, ensuring that processes, 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.

BENEFITS

Standards provide many benefits to all sectors of the economy among which are the following:

TRADE:  They facilitate this activity by making products competitive on the local and international market and reduce or remove technical barriers.

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.

BUSINESS:  Standards open doors to national and international businesses on a 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 ultimately higher foreign exchange earnings.

CONSUMER: Standards serve as protection for public health safety, guaranteeing good quality products and services, hence value for money.