Lilongwe — Malawi on Friday launched the national quality policy that aims at creating awareness of the need for the country to place emphasis on producing quality products.
Launching the policy in Lilongwe, Director of Industry in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Kedron Chisale, said the policy wanted to bring all players involved in quality issues together.
Chisale said the formulation of the policy demonstrated government's intention to inculcate a quality culture through creation of a credible quality infrastructure to realize the National Export Strategy.
He said the lack of a sound policy in Malawi had led to a number of challenges, such as lack of suitable product testing infrastructure and institutions in country.
He said another challenge was that of testing and certification of Malawi's products abroad, leading to high costs of "our products and limited access to foreign markets due to low standards."
The growing trade deficit due to low volume of the country's exports, failure to meet order deadlines due to testing outside the country, and increasing health hazards for lack of proper testing infrastructure were the other challenges, Chisale said.
The national goal that necessitated the development of the Quality Policy is the need for Malawi to diversify its industrial sector by facilitating exports, for instance by supporting local manufacturers and service providers to upgrade the quality of products and services to meet export requirements, says the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the policy's preface .
The Ministry says that at the same time, the quality of products and services on the local market need to be considered to protect people's safety and health, fauna and flora, and the environment.
It says the goals can be furthered by establishing an effective and efficient national quality infrastructure whose output is internationally recognized, and which is supportive of the technical regulation regime.
"The policy therefore underpins the government goal of turning Malawi into a producing and exporting country," Chisale said when he launched the policy on behalf of Industry and Trade Minister, Joseph Mwanamvekha.
He said without a credible quality infrastructure, it was virtually impossible to increase the range of the country's products.
The policy thus formed part of activities geared at creating leverage for the National Export Strategy which aims at increasing the volume and range of the nation's products, he said.
Chisale encouraged the private sector to get involved in both trading and manufacturing, and to keenly follow and take interest in the transformation that the Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) was going through the implementation activities of the policy.
He said until now, the MBS had not been able to provide credible verification for the private and public sectors, adding that a key sector that would benefit from the endevour was the petroleum industry "for which volumetric measurement will now be possible."
Chisale said: "Exporters will find it easy to provide credible verification for their products since the MBS will in the course of implementation of the policy become internationally accredited.
"You may also wish to note that failure to meet international dealines due to testing and certification of our products abroad will no longer be there. Hence exporters will manage to satisfy their customers, thereby boosting Malawi's exports."
Chisale thanked the United Nations Industrial Development Programme (UNIDO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Norwegian Agency for Development (Norad) and the European Union (EU) for their technical support.
"The Malawi Government will ensure that there is support to the MBS and full implementation of of the National Quality Policy," he said.