October 14th every year has been set aside as World Standards Day (WSD) to raise awareness on the importance of this day. The theme for this year is: “Standards for Sustainable Development
Goals” In Sierra Leone this year celebration was preceeded by series of Radio and TV engagements to on the significance and benefits of Standards. It was climaxed by a convergence of key stakeholders at the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau’s Headquarters in Freetown wherelectures were delivered by the Executive Director Prof Thomas Yormah, technical or professional staff and other key stakeholders. In his lectures Prof Yormah described Standardsas a set of prescriptions formulated by experts with inputs from stakeholders and agreed way of doing things by implementing best practices in manufacturing products to ensure fitness for purpose. He said there could be no quality without Standards stating that with Standards and quality consumer satisfaction are assured.
Standards and quality he went on enables Small Medium Enterprises SMEs to improve on productivity and quality so as to compete at both national and international levels and hence contribute towards national revenue and improve Standard of living. Given the rundown of contributions by Small Medium Enterprises to National Gross Domestic Product ( GDP) he explained that Sierra Leone contributes 3%, Nigeria 36% and Ghana 48%.
Unlike Sierra Leone Prof. Maintained, in advance economies were Standards and qualities are prioritized, the labour or work force depends heavily on SMEs and the private sector to generate employment for the working age.
In Sierra Leone huge proportion of the work force looks up to Government for jobs. The Sierra
Leone Standards Bureau is expected to empower SMEs and manufacturing industries through Standards compliance and quality infrastructure.
On compliance and conformity assessment laboratory tests are required based on agreed standards to justify quality of goods and services . Sierra Leone Standards Bureau according to Prof Thomas Yormah certification and inspection are key to his institution in determining qualities of goods coming in and out the country with the aimed of protecting and safeguarding citizens against contamination.
In line with conformity assessment he talked about plans to decentralise Standards Bureau operations in the provincial towns and cities to adequately monitor and surveillance all goods coming in and out of the country through our borders to their qualities base on storage temperature and expiration date.
Laboratory testings are on going in both food and Micro Biology Labs but heavy metal and pesticides tests are yet to be fully operationalized due to resource and logistics
constraints. On the establishment of Management System Certification Body MSCB with support from UNIDO and Government the Bureau has put a number of mechanisms in place such as applying for accreditation and training of Auditors on quality management .
The Standards Manager Mohamed Osman Bah elaborating on the significance and benefits of Standards maintained that with the exemption of only 35 mandatory Standards all the others are voluntary, stating Sierra Leone Standards Bureau has developed close to 180 Standards to ensure customers satisfaction and to reduce technical barriers to trade.
The head of laboratory Yusif Sesay explained that testing is a component of conformity assessment which is based on Standards.
There are food Chemistry, Micro Biology and Petroleum labs but they are confronted with infrastructural, machinery and chemical challenges.
Quality Manager Mohamed Fofana pointed out that quality culture in the country is lacking but noted that with the setting up of Management System Certification Body industries and companies will be accredited. The Manager of Metrology Franklyn Martin confirmed that metrication in Petroleum sector has scaled up while the rollout of general trade and commerce has got stuck due unavailability of funds and resources he therefore appealed for private sector investment to import more scales.
The Executive Director Consumer Protection Agency Commissioner Ibrahim Kabia re-echoed the need for resuscitation ofSierra Leone Standards Bureau with funds and logistical supports to address under delivery and contaminant issues so that our people will stop dying from curable diseases.
The occasion was witnessed by the Chairman of Council Sierra Leone StandardsBureau Prof. Andrew Baimba and Representative of Parliamentary oversight Committee on Trade Hon.
Hindolo Sandy both of whom lauded the awareness raisingprocess on Standards.
@SLSB PRO UNIT