The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has recommended the retention of the current enforcement based national quality management structures for the next fifteen years to facilitate capacity building of voluntary options.
Through the National Standards Council (NSC), which is also the KEBS Board of Directors, the national standards body in its submission to the Taskforce on Standards and Quality Infrastructure Reforms in Kenya recommended the maintaining of existing structures; based on international benchmarks in the continent and beyond.
Appointed by the then Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya late last year and Chaired by Constitutional and Governance Expert Wachira Maina, the National Task Force is expected to review and evaluate the weaknesses and shortcomings of the entire Standards and Quality Infrastructure.
Such review will include, institutional architecture and arrangement to meet the country’s goals of managing and mitigating risks to quality, health, safety, environment, fair trade practices, and consumer protection, among others.
Speaking when he made the KEBS submission to the Taskforce, NSC Chairperson Eng Bernard Ngore and Secretary Lt. Col. (Rtd) Bernard Njiraini said Kenya is at the stage of development where we still need some government support for National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) organisations.
As currently structured and thanks to access to national operating resources, KEBS, he explained has been spearheading product certification efforts which enables products to access markets. As at the end of the second quarter of 2019/20, a total of 13,754 products 2,884 MSME and 10,870 from larger firms had valid permits.
KEBS has incubated medium-small and micro-enterprise to improve the quality of their products. In the FY 2019/20 to-date, 786 MSMEs were incubated.
At such a fledgling stage, the local market the NSC said may not be ripe enough to afford fully commercialised services which would be counterproductive to the national development goals.
“It is, therefore, the recommendation of the NSC that the structure of the National Quality Infrastructure adopted by Kenya including Standardization, Conformity Assessment and some Technical regulation be maintained for the next fifteen years,” Eng Ngore said in NSC’s submission adding that, “Within this time, a National Quality Policy will have been developed and fully implemented and the industry would have gained sufficient quality culture to support voluntary Standards, Metrology and Conformity Assessment Systems.”
Over the years KEBS, Eng Ngore said has managed to institute measures to improve organisational capacity and capability to meet client needs while securing national interests.
From its humble beginnings, KEBS he explained had sustained growth in from the development of Kenya’s first KS 07-01 standard in 1976 to the development of 10,126 Kenyan Standards.
By the end of May 2020, KEBS he further disclosed had managed to harmonise 716 East Africa Standards and currently enjoys the counter endorsement of 1,136 international Standards.
“These standards facilitate trade across the world. KEBS implements a product certification scheme which involves product registration, development of schemes of supervision and control, product testing and certification,” he said.
KEBS is one of the bodies in the multi-agency team constituted under the Office of the President to fight illicit trade in the Country.
As currently structured, KEBS has been instrumental in supporting the Multi-Agency Team activities through Standardization, Metrology and Conformity Assessment. Also, KEBS supported the development of the National Action Plan and Implementation Framework to Combat Illicit Trade, which is currently being implemented.