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Closer look at Zambia Bureau of Standards

HAPPY New Year and welcome to 2015 and, yes, welcome to the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) first column of the year.
We say thank you to our readers who interacted with us throughout the year 2014, and we are delighted that you too have decided to join us. We look forward to an exciting year as we invite you to journey with us as we take a ‘closer look at ZABS’.
I joined ZABS on August 18, 2014. Before then, I did not know much about it.  And as such, my perception of ZABS prior to my joining was based on the little information I had about it which might have been correct or wrong.
What do you know about ZABS? What is your perception of your national standards body? Have you tried to find out more?
What I knew, for instance, was that ZABS assesses the quality of products produced within the country as well as those imported into the country and worked to ensure that these products were inspected and certified to meet the required Zambian standard. At the time, this was enough knowledge for me.
Upon joining ZABS, I discovered that there is a lot more that I did not know. By sharing this information with you I believe that you probably do not know what else goes on at this institution of strategic importance. My hope is that you will relate with me as we begin to explore ZABS throughout this year.
What I did not know is that ZABS develops standards and promotes their use. What I did not know is that there are voluntary and mandatory standards. Did you know that?
What I did not know, is that standards are actually developed by consensus through collaboration with concerned stakeholders. What I did not know is that ZABS regulates those products that fall under mandatory standards. What I did not know is that currently there are only 54 mandatory standards against well over 2,000 voluntary standards.
What I did not know dear reader, is that ZABS inspects only those products that fall under mandatory standards and not all the products as some, like I have said earlier, fall under voluntary standards. YES other products fall under voluntary standards!
What I did not know is that ZABS performs many other functions that promote standardisation, quality assurance and calibration or metrology activities. I hope that you are slowly getting the picture just like I have.
My pledge to you is that as we take this journey together, I want to promise you that we will be sharing with you articles that will give you an insight and a deeper understanding of issues of safety and quality assurance.
We will endeavour to educate you about the role that ZABS plays in the Zambian economy. What then are the functions of ZABS?
The Standards Act Cap 416 of the laws of Zambia defines the functions of ZABS as follows:
(a) ZABS exists to promote and require the adoption of standards in industry and commerce with a view to improving;
• The quality of commodities
• Industrial efficiency and productivity, and
• After sales support services and all aspects of quality assurance for commodities
(b) ZABS exists to make arrangements or provide facilities for the examination and testing of:
• Commodities to which standards apply; and
• The material or substance from which a commodity may be produced, manufactured, processed, treated or finished
(c) ZABS exists to provide schemes of pre-export inspection of export commodities
(d) ZABS exists to provide for other schemes of quality control and quality assurance for commodities to promote and improve the export trade
(e) ZABS exists to coordinate the efforts of producers and consumers in the improvement of appliances, processes, new materials and products
(f) ZABS exists to provide testing facilities and such other facilities and technical services as may be required by the government or industry in connection with
• Structural, electro technical or mechanical engineering
•Biological or chemical technology, including fibre technology
• Any other industrial application of industrial technology
(g) ZABS exists to make arrangements or provides facilities for the testing and calibration of precision instruments, gauges and scientific apparatus, for the determination of their degree of accuracy and the certification thereof
(h) ZABS exists to act as consultants in the field of standards and provide advisory services to industry, including any service industry
(i) ZABS exists to establish laboratories and other facilities for the performance of its functions
(j) ZABS exists to encourage or undertake education in connection with standards, and
(k) ZABS exists to perform such other functions as may be conferred upon any other written law.
I do hope and believe that by now, you have a better understanding of ZABS than before. I encourage you our dear readers to make a date with us every Monday.
We promise you that in the coming months, this column will be addressing the core objectives of ZABS and its mandate in a more detailed way.
We will be discussing with you the various activities that we are undertaking as ZABS. We urge you to interact with us.
We believe that this will help our various stakeholders and the general public to understand the mandate of the national standards body and the role standardisation plays in the enhancement of the national economy.
Please join us and have a blessed week!
The author is head – Marketing and Public Relations
For more information contact
The Director
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom Way – South- End
P.O. Box 50259, Lusaka, Zambia
Tel: +260-211 231385 Email:, Website: