History and Legislation
The Zambia Bureau of Standards is a statutory body under the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry established in 1982 by an Act of Parliament. It implements the Standards Act No. 4 of 2017 of the laws of Zambia which repealed CAP 416 of 1994. Under CAP 416 ZABS was responsible for the development of standards, enforcement of compulsory standards, testing certification and metrology services.
During the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, there existed an institution called Central African Standards Association (CASA). Zambia broke from the association and formed the Zambia Standards Association (ZSA) in 1965 and ran as a private institution. In the early 70s, the institution’s name was changed to the Zambia Standards Institute and was registered under the societies Act.
The Government of the Republic of Zambia in support began giving a grant to the institution for standards development activities.
As Zambia was industrializing, concerns were raised by a group of individuals from privately owned companies about the production and manufacturing of inferior products. By 1976, more and more Zambians, begun acquiring knowledge on standards with a concern that Zambia had lugged behind as most products being produced at the time, did not conform to any standards. These concerns were tabled before the government and it was then when a General Council comprising various organizations, was set up as a governing body. It was then that a proposal was made to the government about establishing an organization that would actively participate in the formulation and development of standards in the country. In 1979, an expert from Sri Lanka (who was brought in by the government to run the Zambia Standards Institute) began working on a draft act in preparation for the establishment of a standards body.
In 1982, the draft act became an Act (Act 82 of 1982) of Parliament, it was enacted to establish the Zambia Bureau of Standards. In 1994, the 1982 Act was repealed and replaced by Cap 416 of the laws of Zambia. The Zambia Standards Institute was officially dissolved at a General council meeting, transferring all assets and liabilities to ZABS.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards at its inception served the country in 2 main activities which comprised Standards writing and product certification with notable companies such as Chilanga cement and Chloride Zambia being the first to have their products certified. ZABS over the years developed, serving the country in the fields of standards formulation, quality assurance, metrology and testing.
After its inception, ZABS received support from UNIDO through its then Director Dr. Taylor who announced a USD400, 000 fund that had been granted to the standards body. This came at a time when there was increasing need for calibration services from organizations such as the Zambia Consolidated Copper Mines (ZCCM). It was through these funds that the metrology labs where set up.
Like any other organization, ZABS, encountered several constraints that inhibited its capacity to increase in its activities. The Bureau did not have a proper building structure and this eventually saw the establishment of the metrology laboratories at the official residence of the then Director in Kalundu housing area. It was not until later in 2001 that funds were availed by the Government for the purchase of a building which would enable ZABS increase its capacity. Although several objections slowed down the purchase of a building, ZABS went ahead to acquire its current building Lechwe House in 2002.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards was set up to protect consumers, to protect the National economy and its establishment was a great achievement in precipitating trade not only locally but globally and we see today a much more awareness for the need of standards today than at the time the institution was being set up. The Industry in Zambia is a growing industry and without a strong standards body, trade would adversely be affected. With the full support of the Government and strategic partners, It is the mandate of ZABS to continue working with the local industries encouraging the importance of producing quality products that will enhance trade.
The Standards Act No. 4 of 2017 was as a result of the implementation of the National Quality Policy of 2010 (NQP) which required the re-alignment of the National Quality Infrastructure (NQI). Under this new Act, ZABS is mandated to provide Standardization and Quality Assurance services through the continued development of standards and the provision of conformity assessment services. ZABS is now a friend of industry supporting the growth and competitiveness of the industry.