Ethiopia: Council Puts New Product, Service Standards in Place

The National Standardisation Council approved 98 more voluntary standards for locally produced and imported products and services in three categories.

The latest additions that were approved on December 14, 2019, pushed the total number of voluntary standards to 10,780. Chaired by Fetlework G. Egziabher, minister of Trade & Industry, the Council is composed of ministers and state ministers who are appointed by the Prime Minister.

Tabled by the Ethiopian Standard Agency, the standards fall under three categories: management system, driving licence training, and graphical symbol and technical drawing. Out of the total standards, 38 of them are new, while 17 and 43 are revised or reaffirmed, respectively.

Initially, the standards were proposed by 201 technical committees that are composed of 15 to 25 members, which operate under the Ministry of Trade & Industry. The committee members are comprised of government officials, private businesspeople, academicians and professionals.

Under the management system category, the Council approved 12 new, eight revised and 13 reaffirmed standards. Graphical symbol and technical drawing received 22, nine and 30 new, revised and reaffirmed standards, respectively.

The driving licence training category, which is included in the standard system for the first time, got four new standards.

Tamiru Tulu, drivers competence assurance director at the Federal Transport Authority, believes that the new standards will play a significant role in reducing traffic accidents.

"But only if they're enforced well," he said.

New and revised standards for the construction, leather, textiles, chemicals, electronics, food and agriculture industries were also tabled to the Council. They are waiting for approval, according to Yesima Geru, communications director at the Agency, which was established in 1972 and reports to the Ministry of Innovation & Technology.

Generally, once the standards are set, they will remain active for five years before any revision, reaffirmation or withdrawal. But, nowadays, the standards are revised frequently due to technological advancements, according to Yesima.

Between March 30, 2019, and April 8, 2019, the Council approved 95 new, 27 revised and 46 reaffirmed standards.

Before the approval of the new standards, there were 253 mandatory and 10,682 voluntary standards approved by the Council.

Even though the businesses that operate in the three categories are not forced to comply with the standards, they can benefit from them to build their image, according to Tadele Kumie, a management systems consultant at Integrated Quality Solutions Plc.

Tadele also believes that the existing mandatory standards are too high and need to be reduced.

"When the number of mandatory standards are high," said Tadele, "the Agency will face challenges in enforcing and regulating them."

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