Qual­ity tests: ‘Le­sotho lags be­hind in SADC’

Lesotho Times - - Business - Bereng Mpaki

LE­SOTHO is lag­ging be­hind other south­ern African coun­tries by fail­ing to es­tab­lish agen­cies that pro­vide qual­ity as­sur­ance ser­vices for busi­nesses and govern­ment de­part­ments among oth­ers.

This was said by Min­istry of Trade and In­dus­try Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary Ma­jakathata Mokoena-thakhisi on Mon­day dur­ing a high-level stake­holder ISO/IEC 17025 break­fast meet­ing in Maseru.

The meet­ing was or­gan­ised by the De­part­ment of Stan­dards ndards and Qual­ity As­sur­ance in col­lab­o­ra­tion ol­lab­o­ra­tion with the South­ern African De­vel­op­ment Com­mu­nity nity Ac­cred­i­ta­tion Ser­vice (SADCAS) ADCAS) to raise aware­ness on the he im­por­tance of ac­cred­it­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries. ra­to­ries.

ISO/IEC 17025 5 refers to the In­ter­na­tional Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Stan­dar­d­i­dard­i­s­a­tion gen­eral re­quire­ments for the com­pe­tence of testest­ing and cal­i­bra­tion on lab­o­ra­to­ries. It is the stan­dard for or which most labs bs around the world ld must hold ac­cred­di­ta­tion in or­der to be deemed tech­nini­cally com­pe­tent.

Mr Mokoe­nakoe­naThakhisi said there was an ur­gent need for Le­sotho to es­tab­lish qual­ity as­sur­ance in­fras­truc­ture­in­fras­tru to foster eco­nomic growth. Qual­ity as­sur­ance is a w way of pre­vent­ing mis­takes or de­fects in man­u­fac­tured prod­ucts and avoid­ing prob­lem­spr when de­liv­er­ing so­lu­tions or servi ser­vices to cus­tomers. It con­sists of stan­dardi stan­dard­i­s­a­tion, metrol­ogy, con­form­ity as­sess­men­tasses and ac­cred­i­ta­tion. He said the pri­vatep sec­tor had al­ready cre­at­edcr var­i­ous prod­ucts that werew await­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion so they can be man­u­fac­tured a and sold to the mar­ket. “We are lo los­ing out on a lot of busi­ness oppo por­tu­ni­ties due to our lack of st stan­dards and qu qual­ity awarenes ness. We need to mov move fast, since we have fallen be­hind and the pri­vate sec­tor is al­ready ahead of us,” said Mr Mokoe­naThakhisi.

“There are many en­trepreneurs who would like to pro­duce cer­tain bril­liant prod­ucts, but their ma­jor chal­lenge is there are no qual­ity as­sur­ance fa­cil­i­ties that al­low their prod­ucts to pen­e­trate the mar­ket.”

The PS noted that Le­sotho had the req­ui­site hu­man re­sources for the pro­vi­sion of qual­ity as­sur­ance ser­vices, adding that they were not be­ing utilised to the coun­try’s detri­ment.

Le­sotho cur­rently re­lies on South Africa for most of its qual­ity as­sur­ance needs, which comes at a higher cost than if the ser­vices were avail­able lo­cally.

A SADCAS con­sul­tant echoed the sen­ti­ment, say­ing sev­eral south­ern African mem­ber states had made no­table progress to­wards es­tab­lish­ing qual­ity as­sur­ance ser­vices, with 50 ac­cred­ited fa­cil­i­ties in the re­gion, while Le­sotho had none.

“There is no sin­gle ac­cred­ited fa­cil­ity in Le- sotho de­spite it be­ing a sub­scrib­ing mem­ber of SADCAS, while there are over 50 of such fa­cil­i­ties in the SADC re­gion,” he said.

“This poses a threat to Le­sotho’s trade prospects since more coun­tries in the re­gion are be­com­ing more com­pet­i­tive than Le­sotho. It is im­per­a­tive, there­fore, for more sup­port to be ac­corded to ac­cred­i­ta­tion ac­tiv­i­ties at var­i­ous lev­els in this coun­try.”

For his part, Stan­dards and Qual­ity As­sur­ance de­part­ment Di­rec­tor Mole­batsi Rabolinyane said limited sup­port from the govern­ment was among the chal­lenges that pre­vented Le­sotho from mak­ing no­table progress in qual­ity as­sur­ance.

“In the past, our ma­jor chal­lenge was lack of lead­er­ship sup­port from the govern­ment,” Mr Rabolinyane said.

“For in­stance, when we started the process of de­vel­op­ing the law for the stan­dards body in 1996, we were at the same level as Botswana. But they com­pleted and ap­proved the law two years later while we only man­aged to do that in 2014.”

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