Ugandan delegation visiting Sweden. Fr. left. Deus Mubangizi, UNBS, Jackson Amone, Ministry of Health, Gideon Badagawa and Deogratias Kamweya. At the back in the middle is Håkan Källgren, technical consultant for QUISP.
Photo: Sida, Susanna Wasielewski Ahlfors
Ugandans want to learn about Swedish quality
Sida supports a programme in Uganda that aims to develop the country’s quality infrastructure and standards, QUISP. Deogratias Kamweya, the programme manager for QUISP at the Uganda's Ministry of Commerce, was among the delegates who visited Sweden this week. The study tour to Swedish institutions gave him an even deeper understanding of the importance of dividing different functions between different bodies.
– In Sweden, SIS works with standardisation and Swedac is the country's national accreditation body*. In Uganda, these functions are still joined together, which creates inefficiencies. Developing a separate accreditation body is an important task for us and this is what we need to invest in if we are to support the private sector.
Efforts to build a well-established and internationally recognized quality infrastructure in Uganda are extensive and they include several components. Deogratias Kamweya emphasizes that it is the government that must take the lead and carry out the work. The support from Sida is a good way to get started, but Uganda then has to take over the process.
Gideon Badagawa is the director of the Private Sector Foundation in Uganda. He agreed with Deogratias Kamweya about the importance of having one institution that sets standards and another one that ensures that they are met, in order not to become a referee and player at the same time. If one cannot live up to the standards that Uganda's trading partners recognize, then it's hard to compete in the region.
– It will be a challenge for all the country's small and medium enterprises with the additional cost that a certification brings. But if we want to enter the European market with vegetables, tulips or fish, then our products need to reach the quality level offered.
Another study visit that left an impression on the delegation was a visit to SP. This Swedish Technical Research Institute does certifying, testing, measuring and calibrating in cooperation with small certification businesses.
– We learned that in Sweden, you have two- or three-man companies that offer certification services to businesses and other customers, with real service! When we talk about certification services in Uganda, the private sector says that it takes a lot of staff and money to implement this. But now we see that it is possible to offer this without investing huge sums, says Deogratias Kamweya, adding that this is a message to take home to Uganda's private sector.
To build the necessary infrastructure is another challenge for Uganda; the few laboratories that exist still lack necessary equipment. Deogratias Kamweya hopes for a collaboration with Swedish institutions, to train staff and learn about what opportunities exist, for example within calibration and metrology.
– Our colleague here from Uganda's standards body was almost overwhelmed when he saw the kind of infrastructure they have at SP. It is only when you go outside your own borders that you realize how far back you actually are. We have a long way to go, but we have taken the first steps, and we know we need to do this work in order to be able to trade with other countries.
Read more about the Sida-financed QUISP programme for Quality Infrastructure and Standards.
*An accreditation body regularly reviews companies or organisations that have the right to perform certain tasks, such as inspection and certification. The accreditation body ensures that these tasks are carried out impartially and accurately, according to internationally recognized standards. Source: Swedac.