UGANDA – The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has opened its second food safety laboratory in Mbale City to provide Conformity Assessment and Quality Assurance of products manufactured in Eastern Uganda.
This comes following the commissioning of the first laboratory in Gulu City in July 2022, to serve Northern Uganda, as part of the Bureau’s Strategic Plan to decentralize Quality Infrastructure and other Standardization Services to other parts of the Country.
Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) and the Danish Government have thus far furnished the UNBS Regional Testing Laboratories with equipment worth USD 4,455,283.
Earlier in March, TMEA boosted UNBS’ regional offices in Mbarara, Gulu, and Mbale with equipment worth USD 1,885,280.
In order to improve the quality and safety of their products, Mr. David Livingstone Ebiru, the Executive Director of UNBS, asked all businesses engaged in production, processing, and value addition to make use of the decentralized quality infrastructure by obtaining certification services (Q-Mark) from UNBS before releasing them onto the market.
He explained that the Bureau is now leading the harmonization of common Standards between the East African Community (EAC) and the African Continent, in order to enable market access for products made in Uganda to the East African Community (EAC) and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
In order for the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to continue to be competitive and viable, he also urged them to seek certification services from the Bureau.
The National Standards Council’s Chair, Mr. Charles Musekuura, vowed to uphold the Bureau’s agenda of bringing standardization services to every region in order to lower business expenses and boost domestic production, trade, and consumption of high-quality goods.
He further urged the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to seek certification services from the Bureau if their businesses are to remain competitive and sustainable.
On his part, the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Francis Mwebesa applauded UNB’s initiative of taking its services nearer to the people despite resource limitations and pledged his support to complement the effort.
According to him, the decentralization of Testing Laboratories to Regional Offices will increase accessibility to UNBS services, lower operating expenses, and generally increase compliance with quality standards.
In order to safeguard public health and safety, he emphasized the importance of quality standards in the government’s industrialization agenda, the Buy Uganda Build Uganda (BUBU) Policy, import substitution, and export promotion strategies.
Mwebesa urged all businesses involved in any form of production, value addition, or trade to adopt these standards by dealing in high-quality, safe products.
Lab to improve products marketability
H.E. Henrik Jespersen, the Deputy Danish Ambassador to Uganda, thanked the Bureau for making the best use of the assistance provided and expressed his hope that it would significantly improve the marketability, safety, and quality of goods made in Uganda.
She also hoped that it would support other government initiatives like agro-industrialization, manufacturing, and private sector development, which are essential for the economic transformation of the nation.
She asked UNBS to give vulnerable businesses, particularly MSMEs owned by women and young people, priority in order to enable them to manufacture high-quality, safe goods that can compete on the market for their livelihoods.
Jespersen tasked the Enterprises to take advantage of the decentralized Testing Facility to improve the quality of their products in order to benefit from the Regional and Continental Markets such as EAC and AfCFTA, including exports to other International Markets like the European Union (EU).
Mr. John Ulanga, Senior Director for the East and Central Region at Trademark East Africa (TMEA), lauded UNBS for being a dependable and trusted partner in promoting trade and investment by making the greatest use of the assistance that has already been provided.
He vowed to support UNBS in its ongoing efforts to decentralize standardized services so that they are more affordable and readily available to the general population.
The Regional Laboratories will be testing a wide range of products, both food and non-food items such as edible fats and oils, milk and milk products, water, fruits and vegetables, cereals and cereal products, and grains and animal products, among others.
In the near future, the regulator plans to establish a laboratory in the Western Region.