As a country we have become overzealous in establishing bodies that cannot really do what they were established for. It is very difficult to assign blame because you would come to find that these bodies especially regulatory bodies in Namibia always have a missing link that which is either pull power to administer certain regulatory bodies or they have mandates which are not clear.
One of those regulators is our Namibian Standards Institution which in simple terms is a quality check body for product on our markets.
On its website, NSI has found the fanciest way to describe what they should be doing in 300 words saying “The Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) is one of the key performance indicators (KPI) of the country’s national quality infrastructure. The first is the National Quality Policy (NQP) adopted by the cabinet. The other KPI is the Legal Infrastructure consisting of the Standards Act No 18 of 2005, the Metrology Amendment Act No 17 of 2005 and the Accreditation Board of Namibia Act No 8 of 2005. The Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) is established in terms of the Standards Act 18, of 2005. The NSI is governed by the Namibian Standards Council (NSC), which was inaugurated by the President when he was the Minister of Trade on the 17th of February, 2011. The NSC provides strategic leadership to the NSI and consists of eight members, who are all non-executive, independent Directors, while the CEO serves as an ex officio member of the NSC.
The expected results of the NSI Programme are an established and functional national standards body in Namibia, capable of : developing, adopting and applying standards; providing accurate measurement traceability to the international standards (SI) through the metrology division; providing reliable testing especially for food such as fish and fishery products including shellfish, beef and agro-products and rendering food safety technical support to the aquaculture, fishing and other industries through regular tests conducted at the NSI Biotoxins and Microbiology”.
Reading that, you get to wonder whether there is something that was missed during the establishment of this standards institution if you still go to China town and find products meant for consumption that banned in other parts of the world.
This pertaining to things such as liquor, food products and even cars that are not meeting the international standards but are still easily finding their way onto Namibian markets because we are unable to detect some of these things.
On the same note, in the past year or so the Genetic Modification Organisms have been increasing in food imported, and these GMOs levels have been confirmed to be way above the safety or limit for most countries yet these producers find it very easy to cross the Namibian border with their products which even come to dominate Namibian products.
So again, is it that the NSI is not given enough fighting power to curb these things or are we turn a blind eye to pertinent issues?
It is not like we have not proven ourselves to be lovers of policies yet allergic to implementation.
Quality check for products especially consumable should be taken as a serious issue, because for a small market and very few producers we cannot create the illusion that we are here to welcome whatever reject products people have.
Industry reps have define Namibia as a breeding ground for un-wanted or low quality products. The argument has always been that some of these products are what Namibians especially those of the middle to lower income can afford however that is not reason enough to sacrifice quality. Namibia needs to set standards, in fact one of its most frequently asked questions is “Why are standards important?” and the NSI continues to explain that Standards make the development, manufacturing and supply of products and services more efficient, safer and cleaner, but is that the case?
Standards facilitate trade between countries and provide governments with a technical base for health, safety and environmental protection and conformity assessment.
Business using standards especially, international standards can compete on many markets around the world.
Standards speed up the disseminations of innovations and their developments into manufactural and marketable products and provide interoperability of goods.
Standards serve as catalysts for technology transfer and provide assurance about the quality and reliability of products.
Machinery and tools used in day to day life including transport, become safer when manufactured according to standards. Even with all this understand on the importance of standards we accept some very poor quality.