All traders will be required to have the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) compulsory product registration standard or S mark on their certified products, before they can be allowed to trade on the local and regional markets.
Apart from the UNBS logo that is stamped on locally manufactured products, the S mark indicates that the product has been registered and meets the safety and health standards.
According to Martin Imalingat, the Quality Assurance Manager at UNBS, the S mark will be a minimum requirement for all products, to help certify the quality of goods and add value to Ugandan products.
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A simple survey by Uganda Radio Network (URN) in major chain stores in Kampala confirms that most products bear the UNBS certification mark, normally found on the product or its packaging and may also appear on a certificate issued by the product certification body, but few have the S mark.
The UNBS mark carries a reference number or name of the relevant product standard against which the product has been certified.
The certification proofs that product meets a defined set of requirements such as safety, fitness for use and other characteristics usually specified in a standard.
Imalingat explains that before the mark is issued, UNBS takes samples of the product through laboratory tests, after verifying that the manufacturer has quality control processes. Now manufacturers will be required to attain an S mark before their products are allowed on the market.
He says that there are still challenges in ridding the market off substandard goods, adding that Pre Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC) of Standards is aimed at addressing at least 80% of certification.
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Imalingat urged the private sector to take an active role in preventing substandard goods. But, the Kampala City Traders Association (KACITA) has been on record challenging UNBS to create legislation and man borders which serve as entry of substandard goods.
Everest Kayondo KACITA chairman observes that UNBS should be present at all entry points where Uganda Revenue Authority clears goods coming to Uganda.
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In the region, Kenya has a Q-mark that was accepted by the East African Standards as the standard mark for all its goods sold in the regional markets. The Kenya Bureau of standards also introduced a new R-mark which it claims is superior to the Q- mark.
East African Standards has harmonized 1100 accepted standards to reduce manufacture of low quality products in the region. Uganda has only 1,000 standards.