The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) Director Technical Services Mrs. Margaret Lwenje Lungu has called on Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Country to aspire to enter new markets beyond national level. Speaking when she opened the Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) training for SMEs in Lusaka yesterday, Mrs. Lungu said with the coming of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) that comes into effect in January 2021, there is need for SMEs in the country to tap into the opportunities that the Free Trade Area will provide.

“We have a lot of opportunities as a country to get our products into export markets as long as they conform to standards and are tested and certified in accredited laboratories. This is why as ZABS, we have organized these trainings to help you as SMEs improve on the quality of your products. Our expectations are that you will be able to share some of the challenges faced in your production processes, so that together we can think through what measures can be put in place to ensure that local products are improved upon.” Mrs. Lungu said. Mrs. Lungu further noted that it is the expectation of the Bureau that local products will begin to be exported within the SADC, COMESA and EAST African regions as they are markets to enter.

“As ZABS, we are working hard to prepare ourselves to help you better so that your product does not meet any challenges when exporting. Most of the food related methods in our laboratories are accredited and we are also working towards getting our certification schemes accredited. To further facilitate the movement of Zambian products to other countries we are harmonizing standards in the region through the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO). All these efforts that we are making are to help businesses have access to external markets as they will be supported by internationally recognized services from ZABS Mrs. Lungu said.

The training is being conducted by ZABS in Lusaka, to assist SMEs to comply with Good Manufacturing Practices and has attracted SMEs in wine production, peanut butter production, meat processing, honey production and hand sanitizer and face masks production. The trainings will cover all aspects of production such as consistency in producing according to quality standards, hygiene practices and packaging and labelling requirements. The training is posed to help SMEs achieve sustainable growth and be able to meet requirements of the various markets.