ZABS undertakes import quality inspections

LAST week we looked at the importance of product certification and how it helps and safeguards the interests of both the consumers and manufacturers. ZABS undertakes product certification to help the manufacturer embrace best practice in product development, thereby gaining competitive advantage. It also assures the consumer about the safety of products on the market, thereby ensuring that they get value for money.
Oftentimes I have been asked about what strategies ZABS has employed to manage the influx of substandard goods on the market. Product certification, like I mentioned last week, is just one of the quality monitoring schemes that ZABS implements to protect both the manufacturer and the consumer. Today we look at another quality monitoring scheme, the Import Quality Monitoring Scheme, which, as the name suggests, focuses on the monitoring of the quality of imported products that fall under mandatory standards.  Monitoring; in the sense of inspecting, testing and ensuring that the quality of the imports or products entering the country meets and exceeds the required standards.
Let us first define an import. An import is any good (e.g. a commodity) or service brought in from one country to another in a legitimate fashion, typically for use in trade. Imported goods or services are provided to domestic consumers by foreign producers. An import in the receiving country is an export to the sending country.
You will agree with me that following the liberalisation of the Zambian economy and the introduction of the COMESA Free Trade Area, Zambia has experienced an influx of various imported goods. A walk at the City and COMESA markets will reveal to you the diversity of products on the market today. As a direct result of this influx, there has been an increase in the number of customer complaints about the quality of some of the imported products. The Zambian government, through statutory instrument 41 of 2003 (extended by 78) and SI 120 of 2006, has addressed the issue of inferior goods by declaring certain standards of goods compulsory or mandatory.
The rationale for the implementation of IQMS by ZABS, therefore, cannot be overemphasised. One thing to note, though is that IQMS ensures that products prescribed under mandatory standards are allowed to enter Zambia only if they comply with the prescribed standards.
Through IQMS, products are inspected at entry points.  In order to carry out this mandate successfully, ZABS has a presence in Nakonde, Chirundu, Kazungula, Katima Mulilo and Livingstone, as well as Mwami and Chanida in Eastern Province. This enables us to inspect the imports before they come into the country and thus promote quality products on the market.
To expedite the process of clearing, importers are advised to follow the simple procedure below:
1.Check with ZABS or SI whether the product is covered by the statutory instrument (via internet, ZABS head office or border entry points)
2.Make an application to ZABS for inspection in advance of the shipment (pre-importation application)
3.Ensure that the following documents are presented at the time of application;
i. Commercial invoice
ii. Test report/certificate from country of origin (preferably from the national standards body or recognised testing authority in that country)
Benefits of IQMS to the Consumer and the manufacturer
This scheme gives confidence to customers that an independent person/organisation has tested a product and it is safe and it meets minimum requirements for quality. It also fosters improvement in the quality of life for all as a result of the quality of products
For the manufacturer, the scheme helps the business to increase in sales and profitability, as the level of confidence in the products by the customers also increases. Economically, it prevents the country from being a dumping ground for inferior products. Take heed!
Authored by, Head Marketing and Public Relations.
Write to the Director,
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House
Freedom way South End
P O Box 50259
Tel; 231385