Dr. Ben Manyindo, Executive Director, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS)
The Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, in March 2017, launched the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) policy and strategy, demonstrating its commitment to support local industries for sustainable economic growth and job creation.
The economic objective of the BUBU intervention is for local manufacturing and services industry to get a share of government business/projects and shelf space in large retail supermarkets for economic growth and creation of jobs.
One of the key requirements is that the local products and services benefiting from the BUBU policy must be certified for conformity to Uganda Standards. In this regard, UNBS plays a central role in the implementation of the BUBU policy and the realization of its objectives. UNBS interventions in support of BUBU policy focuses on three areas:
- Developing standards for products to facilitate specification and evaluation or provide product quality assurance and safety between suppliers and buyers;
- Building the capability of industry to adopt and implement standards to enhance product quality and safety and comply with standards requirements;
- Providing conformity assessment services such as testing and certification to assist industry to demonstrate that their products meet standards requirements.
The initiative is an opportunity for UNBS to work with industry to ensure production of quality goods and services.
The role of UNBS is to support the local industry to implement standards and to certify products and services. In this regard, the UNBS has, in the past 3 months, engaged stakeholders in textile and furniture, which are the priority sectors targeted in the BUBU Policy (Textiles and Furniture), to understand their needs and challenges related to standards use and conformity. Through these engagements, the UNBS will be able to promote standards and encourage industry to certify their products and services to take advantage of the opportunities the BUBU Policy presents.
Below are some of the activities undertaken towards BUBU and their status to-date:
- Various stakeholders meetings have been organized in past two months to establish needs for standards and challenges faced in meeting standards.
- Identification of textile products that are consumed more effectively by government for standards development purposes.
- Visiting NYTIL, Fine Spinners Ltd, Min. of Defense (UPDF), Uganda Police Force, Uganda Prisons & PPDA to carry out survey of specifications to guide in standards development.
- Establishing capacity in conformity assessment areas and identifying gaps in textile sector.
- Standard development process is yet to commence due to lack of common specifications to guide the sector.
- Standards have been identified in this sector both indigenous and international standards to guide and support the sector.
- A stakeholder meeting was held to find out the standards needs and challenges in the sector.
- 2 regional stakeholders meetings were held in Mbale and Kampala where 5 companies were selected as cluster in Eastern region for support towards certification.
- Standards development process for specific products in this sector has commenced with a priority list of 55 items identified by the Furniture and Related Industry Association of Uganda (FRAU). The priority list is based on the most procured items by government.
- Sensitizing stakeholders on standards developed including step by step description of the implementation plan.
The BUBU is an important policy initiative by the government of Uganda to support local industries to be competitive. In line with our mandate, UNBS will work with local enterprises to assist them with developing standards and gaining the necessary certification which will make them competitive in the market.