The Role of Uganda Bureau of Standards (Ubos) in Ensuring Quality of Products

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is a statutory body under the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Co-operatives established by the UNBS Act Cap 327, it became operational in 1989. It is governed by the National Standards Council and headed by the executive director who is responsible for the day-to-day operation of UNBS.

The Mandate of UNBS includes:

• Formulation and promotion of the use of standards;

• Enforcing standards in protection of public health and safety and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products;

• Ensuring fairness in trade and precision in industry through reliable measurement systems; and

• Strengthening the economy of Uganda by assuring the quality of locally manufactured products to enhance the competitiveness of exports in regional and international markets.

Functions of the bureau.

The functions of the bureau are multiple, and they include-

(a) formulate national standard specifications for commodities and codes of practice as may from time to time be required.

(b) promote standardisation in commerce, industry, health, safety and social welfare.

(c) determine, review, modify or amend standard specifications and codes of practice as may from time to time be required.

(d) endorse or adopt any international or other country’s specification with or without any modification as suitable for use in Uganda.

(e) require certain products to comply with certain standards in manufacture, composition, treatment or performance and to prohibit substandard goods where necessary.

(f) enforce standards in the protection of the public against harmful ingredients, dangerous components, shoddy material and poor performance.

(g) promote trade among African countries and the world at large through the harmonisation of standard specifications demanded in various countries.

(h) provide for the testing of locally manufactured or imported commodities with a view to determining whether the commodities conform to the standard specification declared under this Act.

(i) make arrangements or provide facilities for the examination, testing or analysis of commodities and any material or substance from which or with which and the manner in which they may be manufactured, produced, processed or treated.

(j) make arrangements or provide facilities for the testing and calibration of precision instruments, gauges and scientific apparatus, for determining their degree of accuracy by comparing them with the devices approved by the Minister on the recommendation of the council and for the issue of certificates thereto.

(k) assist the Government, a local administration, a statutory corporation, a company or any other person in the preparation or framing of any internal or company standard specification or in the preparation or framing of any internal or company code of practice.

(l) provide for cooperation with the Government, representatives of any industry, commercial organisation, local administration, statutory corporation or any other person with a view to securing the adoption and practical application of standards.

(m) encourage or undertake educational work in connection with standardisation.

(n) procure the recognition of the bureau by any other country.

(o) seek membership of any international organisation connected with standardisation.

(p) develop and maintain a collection of materials relating to standardisation and related matters.

In the performance of its functions, the bureau shall, so far as practicable, consult and cooperate with anybody, organisation or association in Uganda or outside Uganda, having functions similar to those prescribed or relating to industrial or commercial standards generally with a view to furthering the functions of the bureau.

Imports inspection and clearance scheme

The inspection of imports coming into Uganda is one of the UNBS mandates that emerged from the UNBS Act Cap 327 which became operational. Import inspection duties entail enforcing the requirements of Ugandan standards in order to protect the health and safety of the public and the environment against dangerous and sub-standard products. In the subsequent years, a number of amendments and regulations with regard to import inspection and clearance have been passed and issued by the government to ensure that imports meet requirements of the approved standards in Uganda.

Why Imports Inspection

Imports Inspection Department inspects products to ensure compliance with standards and regulations so that only quality products are sold to consumers. Products falling under compulsory standards are deemed to have a bearing on the health and safety of the consumer as well as the environment and as such they shouldn’t fall short of what is stipulated in the standard.

How inspection is done

Consignments for importation to Uganda are inspected for quality upon arrival at the entry points and this entails both document checks and physical inspection of goods. Depending on the value and nature of products, the law requires that they are subject to Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC).

 PVoC is an inspection and verification programme carried out on goods by appointed inspection agents in the country of export. From a broad picture, products that are above USD 2,000 FoB value and are covered by compulsory standards are subject to PVoC and the importer is required to present a Certificate of Conformity (COC) at the entry point. This programme also applies to used motor vehicles coming into the country and as a requirement the importer has to present a Certificate of Road Worthiness (CRW) to obtain clearance.

Product certification

Product certification involves the issuance of a certificate or mark (or both) by a third party to demonstrate that a specific product meets a defined set of requirements such as safety, fitness for use and/or interchangeability characteristics for that product, usually specified in a standard.

Product certification mark is normally found on the product or its packaging and may also appear on a certificate issued by the product certification body. The mark carries a reference to the number or name of the relevant product standard against which the product has been certified.

UNBS operates a Product Certification Scheme in accordance to the provisions of the Certification Regulations of 1995. Under this scheme, manufacturers apply for and are granted permits to use the Uganda Standards Certification Mark (The Quality Mark) on their products after demonstrating compliance of their products to the requirements of relevant national standards.

The UNBS Product Certification Scheme aims at providing Third Party Guarantee of quality, safety and reliability of products to the consumers. The presence of the UNBS Quality Mark on a product is an assurance of conformity to relevant standards. The conformity is ensured by regular surveillance of the manufacturer’s performance by surprise inspections and testing of samples, drawn both from the market and factory.

More details can be found at

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