Number of harmonized East Africa Standards has increased contributing to a reduction in time and cost of conformity assessment at the borders, thus helping to spur regional trade
By EABT TEAM
A recently conducted independent evaluation of the Standards Harmonisation and Conformity programme in East Africa indicate that there is a 59 per cent reduction (from $500 to $205) in testing cost and 74 per cent reduction (from 38 days to 10 days) in average testing time achieved across the East Africa Community (EAC) region.
The results also indicate that the number of products complying with quality and standards requirements has increased through certification thus contributing to increased intra and Extra EAC trade values and volume by 23% and 50% respectively (from $ 857,997 in 2010 to $ 2,094,748 in 2014).
TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) has invested US$ 11.6 million between 2011 to 2014 in the Standards Harmonization and Conformity Testing Programme. The broad aim was to support the National Standards Bureaux (NSBs) in achieving regional harmonization of standards and improving their testing capacities with the aim of improving trade competitiveness in East Africa by reducing the time and cost of testing in the region. This is expected to ultimately contribute to increased regional trade.
Further results indicate 79 East Africa Standards (EAS) were harmonized and gazetted with support from the programme. This has greatly reduced the testing cost and the clearance time of products because goods with these marks are no longer required to comply with multiple standards or re-tested by the NSBs in the importing countries in the region due to mutual recognition of the certification marks by the NSBs.
In Kenya, the programme supported Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to procure laboratory testing equipment that was installed at KEBS testing laboratory and also trained 12 KEBS staff in various aspects of testing. This resulted in the reduction of the testing turn-around time from 14 days to one day and the testing cost for these parameters from US$ 800 to US$120.
In Burundi, the programme supported the Burundi Bureau of Standards (BBN) to procure and install a range of new laboratory testing equipment, supplies and accessories to upgrade the product standard testing facilities that led to the reduction in the testing time from 65 days in 2010 to 15 days in 2014.
In Rwanda, the programme supported the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) to procure and install lab equipment at RSB. This programme support resulted into a reduction in testing time from 60 days in 2012 to 8 days in 2014 and the testing cost from US$ 500 to US$250.
In Tanzania, the programme supported the Tanzania Bureau of Standards by procuring and delivering two categories of testing equipment which included mini-laboratory equipment and glassware; and Laboratory Integrity Fuel Kit. These are expected to contribute to a reduction in testing time and cost.
Finally in Uganda, the programme supported the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) through the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives (MTIC) and the Quality Infrastructure and Standardization Programme (QUISP) to procure and install laboratory equipment which contributed to reduced average testing time from 19 days in 2010 to 8 days in 2014 and testing cost from US$350 to US$100.
TMEA is implementing several trade facilitation initiatives in the EAC region that have contributed to a reduction in testing times and costs including the single customs territory (SCT), one stop border posts (OSBPs), electronic single window (eSW), authorised economic operator schemes (AEOs) and electronic cargo tracking systems (ECTS).