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UNBS new boss Livingstone Ebiru vows to double the achievements

Mr. David Livingstone Ebiru confirmed as new UNBS executive director.

Lira, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The newly appointed Executive Director of the Uganda National Bureau of Standards, David Livingstone Ebiru sees the bringing on board of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to embrace standards as one of the major challenges as he takes the mantle.

Only if and when all the manufacturers and dealers in various products ensure that their products are certified, will it be easy for the government agencies to raise standards to satisfactory levels, the UNBS boss says.

Ebiru says in his tenure, or in the next five years, they plan to double the current achievements.

“The UNBS focus in the next five years is to double what has been done so far, by increasing focus on private sector development, agro-industrialisation, manufacturing and a sustainable petroleum resources programme,” Ebiru said.

Ebiru who was confirmed executive director on Tuesday May 11, has been acting in that capacity since the retirement of Ben Manyindo in November last year.

Dr. Manyindo’s tenure since 2012 at the top was recognized for the various infrastructure projects he put in place which boosted service delivery.

In his last year 2019/2020, UNBS undertook Product Certification and Management Systems Certification to improve the quality of locally manufactured products so that they are able to access regional and international markets.

The number of certification permits increased from 1,350 products the previous year to 2,705 permits in 2019/20, while a total of 1,168 MSMEs were registered. But according to Manyindo, the activities were affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 which saw most of their services halted.

UNBS remittances to the consolidated fund amounted to Ugx 38.2 billion, falling short of the target of Ugx 69 billion.

Over the last five years, 3,948 standards have been developed and 486 standards harmonised with the East African Standards, while more than 2,000 standards are internationally harmonised.

A report released by the UNBS says the standards cut across most of Uganda’s tradable products, thus improving trade.

The body has also recognized 15 laboratories as private facilities that can carry out product testing, and currently, laboratory testing capacity has increased from 9,883 to 19,635 products tested annually.

The Bureau also made 7,345 surveillance inspections up from 1,093 five years ago, which manifests the improved capacity despite still lacking enough manpower.

There are 440 employees up from less than 300 five years ago. The bureau was also able to increase the number of inspected imported consignments from 99,980 to 153,256 consignments over the five years.

Ebiru also cites as a recent major achievement, the decentralization of the certification and market surveillance activities to Gulu, Mbale and Mbarara, automation of UNBS core services to allow online and remote access to UNBS services by stakeholders.

He concedes that most enterprises, especially MSMEs still find the cost of certification permits too high, but says that if enterprises come together in groups, this can be eased.

“UNBS is currently advising all Micro, Small and Medium enterprises to form associations for tailored assistance from UNBS including reduced certification permit costs from UGX 800,000 for MSMEs to UGX 500,000, and from UGX 1,500,000 for large enterprises to UGX 1,000,000 per year,” says Ebiru.

The outgoing Minister for Trade, Industry and Cooperatives, Amelia Kyambadde named harmonizing standards with the East African region which has boosted trade, completion of construction works for the Standards House and Food safety laboratories as the main achievements.

She further urged UNBS to enhance collaboration with the private sector, traders and consumers as well as extending laboratory facilities and services to the different UNBS offices across the country.

Ebiru says they will continue engaging the local producers to ensure that Ugandan products are fit for both the local and export market, citing the challenging issue of aflatoxin in maize and maize products, the largest food-crop export.

The Bureau has been visiting processors of grain around the country to give them tips on achieving acceptable standards.

The processors have up to June 30th to ensure that they comply with new guidelines on standards for grain, that touch on stores, processing equipment and storage bags among others.

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