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Standards: World’s common language

LAST week was busy for Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS). This is because starting from October 12 to 16, ZABS conducted different activities in commemorating the World Standards Day under the theme, “Standards- the world’s common language.”
By definition, a standard is a document that provides requirements, specifications, guidelines or characteristics that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes, systems and services are fit for their purpose.
That is, a standard could be the agreed way of making a product, managing a process, delivering a service or supplying materials. Standards cut across a wide range of activities undertaken by organisations.
Therefore, without standardisation, communicat ion and collaboration between people, machines, parts and products would be extremely challenging at national, regional and international levels.
As people, nations and indeed businesses, as we connect through technologies, it is imperative that we continue to develop and adopt standards to increase efficiency and streamline operations. Standards, therefore, are and remain an integral part of the process of communication.
This year’s commemoration was different in that ZABS conducted sensitisation talks and exhibitions in Kafue, Mazabuka, Monze and Livingstone where members of the public were sensitised on various issues hinging on quality assurance of the products they buy and also what they need to check whenever they purchase a product. The sensitisation also included a debate at Evelyn Hone College and a Quiz at Woodlands Basic School in Lusaka.
The sensitisation talks also targeted micro small and medium Enterprises (MSMEs) involved in metal fabrication, welding, block-making and carpentry. Other sectors include joinery and food processing. Once these MSMEs are well conversant with the set standards, it becomes easier for them to produce products that are acceptable both locally and internationally, thus giving consumers better products.
Additionally, a team of ZABS officers mounted an exhibition stand at Shoprite and Spar in Mazabuka as well as Livingstone Post Office and also conducted radio interviews on Sky FM in Mazabuka and Zambezi FM in Livingstone. All these activities were meant to sensitise as many people as possible.
The theme for this year highlights the important role that standards play in our daily lives. Without standards, communication between people, machines, parts and products would be extremely difficult.
The World Standards Day is celebrated internationally on October 14 each year to raise awareness among stakeholders and the general public on the significance that standards play on our day–to-day activities, and also to honour the efforts of stakeholders from various sectors of our economy who participate in the development of these standards.
It is important to note that Zambian standards are based on international standards so as to ensure that our products and services meet international requirements. Therefore, national standards are aligned to international standards and as such products and services that meet our national standards, also meet international standards. In this way, businesses use a common language which facilitates trade.
Like any other nation, Zambia recognises the importance of standards for the development of the nation and as such has made strides to develop standards for products and services produced in the country in order to meet international requirements.
Additionally, standards help facilitate the most routine forms of communication, such as planning a phone call, surfing the web and using debit or credit cards when travelling.
In this fast-changing society, would you imagine a world where your debit or credit card would not fit into every machine or your lightbulb was not compatible with your bulb holder? Could you imagine a world without telephone, country and currency codes and access to internet? These are simple but yet very important questions that make standards significant in our day-to-day activities.
We would like to urge all business houses and the general public to take keen interest in ZABS and the whole process of standards development and implementation. Partner with us so that you make available only safe, reliable and quality products to your customers!
The author is Head-Marketing and Public Relations
For more information contact:
The Director
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom Way
P O Box 50259, Lusaka
Tel: 260-211-231385

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