In order to engage in international trade effectively, trading partners need mutual assurance that their goods and services are safe and of high quality.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) recognises that maintaining standards of quality are important to the businesses and consumers in the region and beyond. As a result, it has established a formal framework – the Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology Programme – to oversee standardisation of policies and procedures for ensuring quality and safety of trade in the region.
Specifically, the Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology Programme is responsible for the following:
- Facilitating trade through the harmonisation of standards based on international standards
- Alignment of the region’s approach to ensure food, animal, and health safety across the region (link to sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures) and technical barrier to trade issues with the World Trade Organisation, whilst not creating non-tariff barriers;
- Facilitating industrial competitiveness by ensuring the use of relevant standards and the production of quality goods in the region; and
- Ensuring the protection of consumers through the use of regulations based on international best practices for quality, safety and conformity assessment.
Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology Cooperation
Following the SADC goal of Regional Integration, the Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology Programme has established several structures that focus on particular issues related to standardisation and quality assurance:
- Technical Regulation Liaison Committee - promoting and facilitating implementation of the SADC Technical Regulation Framework (link to doc);
- Technical Barriers to Trade Stakeholders Committee - facilitating stakeholder participation in Technical Barrier to Trade matters;
- Cooperation in Accreditation –facilitating the regional accreditation system - SADC Accreditation Service (SADCAS);
- Cooperation in Legal Metrology - working with Member States to harmonise legal metrology regulations between each other and other trading blocks - SADC Cooperation in Legal Metrology (SADCMEL);
- Cooperation in Measurement Traceability - coordinating metrology activities in order to standardise systems of measurement and ensure accuracy of calibration and testing;
- Cooperation in Standardisation - promoting standardisation activities to harmonise standards in support of the Protocol on Trade - SADC Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN).
- Standardisation, Quality Assurance, Accreditation, and Metrology Expert Group, which advises the SADC Secretariat on standards and quality matters not covered elsewhere; and
- SADC Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Coordination Structure, which contains two substructures that facilitate standards on sanitary and phyto-sanitary measures:
- National Committee on Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Measures; and
- SADC Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary Coordinating Committee.
Understanding that lack of certainty over the quality of goods can hamper trade progress, SADC established the SADC Accreditation Service to provide industry, regulators, and users with guarantees that products and services from the SADC region meet acceptable levels of quality. The SADC Accreditation Service is a non-profit subsidiary of SADC, aimed at achieving the following objectives:
- Supporting regional and international trade;
- Enhancing the protection of consumers and the environment; and
- Improving the competitiveness of SADC products and services in both the voluntary and regulatory areas.
Two examples of facilities approved by the SADC Accreditation Service are the Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Private) Limited, in the scope of chemical analysis in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025, and the Scientific & Industrial Research and Development Centre - National Metrology Institute, in the scope of dimensional and temperature metrology in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025.
To further its mandate, SADC began an award programme in 2011 for businesses exhibiting outstanding commitments to standardisation and quality. The aim of these awards is to recognise organisations and individuals contributing to quality advancement in all sectors of SADC, and who use quality advancement to support economic development and growth.
In recent years, three South African companies won awards for their products and services:
- ITRON Metering Solutions (2012),
- South African Breweries (2012), and
- Swift Micro Laboratories (2012).
Additionally, Bak Logistics Private Limited, from Zimbabwe, won in the small- and medium-sized company category (2012).
- Annex to the SADC Protocol on Trade - Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS)
- Annex to the SADC Protocol on Trade - Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
- SADC Annual Quality Awards 2012 Statement
- SADC Annual Quality Awards 2012 Procedure - English
- SADC Annual Quality Awards 2012 Procedure - French
- SADC Annual Quality Awards 2012 Procedure - Portuguese