Up your standards to compete globally, advises ISO boss

July 24, 2008

, NAIROBI, July 24 – Developing countries have been urged to harmonise their national standards in line with the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO).

ISO Secretary General Alan Bryden said Thursday such harmonisation would simplify and facilitate trade between the developing nations and the other countries

He advised that instead of viewing the standards as a hindrance to trade, the developing countries should adopt them as they eliminate the need for many national requirements which create technical barriers to trade.

The ISO chief observed that contrary to claims that international standards were a barrier to trade, harmonizing them with the national standards reduced costs, enhanced compliance and developed trade opportunities.

This is because the widespread adoption of ISO certification means that suppliers offer goods and services that meet specifications that have wide international acceptance in their sectors.

Bryden, who spoke during the launch of the National Quality Institute (NQI) – the training arm of the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) – said ISO was committed to accommodating developing countries in the international standardization.

Bryden however called on the developing nations to build the infrastructure needed to support the improvement of quality so as to meet global demands.

The infrastructure includes a legislative framework dealing with standardization, consumer protection and counterfeiting.

It also entails having testing, certification and accreditation bodies, which constitute the quality infrastructure to assist local industries adjust to levels demanded by world markets.

He stressed that although ISO was willing to work with these countries to increase the awareness and application of standards, the organization was not a donor agency.

“Our focus is raising capacity of the members of ISO, such as KEBS and training their staff so that they can play their role as the interface with international standardisation in an efficient way,” the Secretary General added.

Meanwhile, KEBS Managing Director Eng Kioko Mang’eli said through the training institute, the bureau would prepare a quality policy to bring in more players in standardisation arena.

The NQI is expected to be a viable tool in the dissemination of knowledge in standardization and conformity assessment as well as help in maintaining the country’s technical competence.

“NQI intends to entrench the quality culture through education and to engage the working population in a new paradigm shift to embrace quality as a way of life,” Mang’eli stated.

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