Absence of quality standard hurting Uganda companies

By Edwin Muhumuza

The lack of standards is affecting delivery of goods and services by Ugandan companies. The trend cuts across all sectors such manufacturing ,agriculture ,transport ,health among others.This concern came to the fore during a breakfast meeting on the impact of standards in the delivery of products and services.

This was revealed by AG Quality consultants, a leading quality consulting firm during a quality management systems dialogue with several business stakeholders in Kampala as part of the world accreditation day activities.

It emerged that Ugandan Health Care continues to suffer setbacks in regard to the quality of diagnostics and laboratory services which are not internationally accepted.

Chief Executive Officer ,Kilian Songwe speaking at the event noted that standards are what leverage businesses in the fast changing world.

For a long time government and business experts have decried the informal nature of businesses and the lack of willingness to adopt corporate governance in majority of them by owners. Relatedly,it is a common concern for consumers to complain about varying quality of specific products on the market.

Songwe noted that “compliance is the price you pay for admission”adding that accreditation ensures impartiality,competence and consistence.He said continuous improvement is a must and that risk management was becoming an element of standards.

Patricia Bageine Ejalu, the Deputy Executive Director for Technical Operations Uganda National Bureau of Standards said there is need for companies to adopt technical committees to ensure quality requirements are observed adding that ,” the Implementation of standards is not rocket science”.

Amid the urge and the push to do global business by Ugandan companies,the demand for quality is high and some of them have failed to penetrate the international market further worsening the country’s trade balance.

Uganda’s economic backbone is agriculture but the sector too is faced with many challenges that stem from High cost of investment/finance,Inadequate physical infrastructure to support the sector, Poor farming techniques,Limited access to quality farm inputs, Too much relying on rain,Lack of marketing data and information,Inadequate production and post harvest technologies all which are linked to a lack of quality management systems at production level all through the value chain.

Stanbic Bank head of Agri-business,Richard Wangwe,said that the excessive wastage of Ugandan produce which normally is perishable is as a result of a lack of quality standards and thus continues to lead to has led to loss of food and vegetables,further calling for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and Good Handling Practices.

Additionally he noted that exporters do not earn much from their exported produce due to absence of standards.‘Hazards occur at all stages of the food chain and there it becomes important to address food safety and production at firm level.’

Chief Guest Dr. Elly Karuhanga, Chairman Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum tipped participants on the importance of Oil & Gas Standards in the delivery of products and services noting that the sector is driven by standards and nothing else.This as government urges Ugandans to produce local content for the sector whilst the industry demand s for standards.

Nelson Ofwono,a local content development expert advised the business community to bench mark all their systems be it management,operations,production among others on the oil and gas sector.