The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS), against a tough environment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was able to embark on some of its planned activities for the year 2020 that contributed to uplifting the quality and competitiveness of local products on the market. Reviewing the year gone by, ZABS Executive Director Mr. Manuel Mutale said that a total of 156 products were certified, bringing the cumulative number of certified products in the country to 371.

“Our target at the beginning of the year was to certify 150 products, and I am glad to report that we certified a total of 156 products representing 104% achievement. This brings the cumulative total of certified products in the country to 371. The demand for standards last year was high, increasing the number of published standards, and this we recorded at 380 against a target of 280.  We are assured that products will continue to conform to performance, quality, and safety requirements knowing that there are standards in place to support the various sectors of the economy.” Mr. Mutale said.

On the testing front, ZABS recorded a 68% achievement against the target of 8,900 samples. “Our laboratories serve an important role in identifying potential risks and ascertaining the quality of products which our clients use for decision making. In the year under review, we recorded 6 065 samples analyzed against a target of 8,900 samples. We have increased our testing capacity in the petroleum laboratory by purchasing new equipment that we hope to commission before the end of February. With this piece of equipment, we will be able to offer comprehensive tests in the petroleum industry. Lastly, we scaled up our support to Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) by conducting training to 199 SMEs in peanut butter production, Wine production, Honey production, and meat and meat products processing. With our mandate streamlined to support the industry’s growth and competitiveness, we will focus on ensuring that challenges faced in relation to compliance, quality, and safety are addressed through the services that we will offer.” Mr. Mutale said.

Meanwhile, the Executive Director gave the direction for the institution for 2021. He stated that ZABS will play a pivotal role in facilitating Zambia’s participation in the African Continental Free Trade Area and has made significant steps towards the accreditation of its certification services. He said once the accreditation process is complete, it will give international recognition of the ZABS certification services and confidence in the schemes provided for products and services.

ZABS is also set to boost its construction materials laboratory to enhance the testing of construction materials. This laboratory will serve the construction sector in areas where questions have arisen regarding the quality of construction materials on the market. The testing scope for construction materials is currently limited, and ZABS intends to purchase equipment to increase the testing capacity. Meanwhile, a Solar laboratory meant to test solar products is set to be commissioned in April 2021. The laboratory whose equipment arrives in the country in April is being put together through Africa Clean Energies International and funded by the International Finance Corporation.