Minister in the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry Hon. Christopher Yaluma has called on Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (SME’s) in the country to utilize the services offered by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) in order to improve the quality of their products as a means to access more profitable markets. The minister said the only effective weapon that will ensure that Zambian locally produced products compete favourably in the African continent is if local products are complying with National and International Standards. Speaking when he graced the opening of the ZABS MSME engagement workshop in Kasama yesterday, Mr. Yaluma said the certification by ZABS under the certified local supplier scheme is one such evidence of compliance to standards and therefore urged all SMEs to embrace the scheme and maximize the benefits associated with it.
“This workshop is aimed at raising awareness of the mandate of the Zambia Bureau of Standards and also to promote the Certified Local Supplier Scheme. The scheme was recently launched under Zambia Bureau of Standards to provide mentorship, training and certification to the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises such as you that are gathered here today. The redefining of ZABS mandate from a regulator to that of “A Friend of industry” was so that their role could be more focused on supporting industry to embrace and implement standards for the enhancement of the quality of products and services for industry growth and competiveness. Zambia is at a stage of ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement, that will open the Country up for stiffer competition to goods produced from other Countries within the continent there is no doubt that the only effective weapon we will have to ensure that our locally produced products compete favourably in the African continent is if our local products are complying with our National and International Standards. As such, I wish to encourage each one of you gathered here to utilize this opportunity to improve the quality of your products as a means to access more profitable markets.” Mr. Yaluma said.
The Honorable Minister told the SMEs gathered that the Government of His Excellency, Dr. Edgar Chagwa Lungu, attaches great importance to their growth and sustainability and that Government was aware of the challenges that players in the sector are facing. The minister told the meeting that in order to address some of these challenges, the Certified Local Supplier Scheme was developed by the Zambia Bureau of Standards to meet the product quality requirements of customers in the high value markets. The Minister of Commerce urged the SMEs to take keen interest in participating in standards development activities so that more standards for some of the products that do not have a standard can be developed. He said participation in these activities would ensure that distinct interests of producers and manufacturers are adequately taken care of.
Meanwhile the Zambia Bureau of Standards Executive Director Mr. Manuel Mutale said the Certified Local supplier scheme is a game changer that will help enhance the quality of products manufactured by SMEs. He said the Bureau is on a mission to various provinces in the country to engage with SMEs so that more products can be certified to the scheme.
The certified local supplier scheme was launched in 2019 by the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry and is being implemented by the Zambia Bureau of Standards. Since the launch, Twenty (20) SME products have been certified to the scheme and are already on the shelves of chain stores such as Shoprite and Pick & Pay.