EAC SQMT Act, 2006
The EAC SQMT Act, 2006 makes a provision for ensuring standardisation, quality assurance, metrology and testing of products produced or traded in the Community in order to facilitate industrial development and trade; to make provision for ensuring the protection of the health and safety of society and the environment in the Community; to establish the East African Standards Committee and the East African Accreditation Board; and to provide for related matters.
Specifically, the Act aims to:
- protect and improve the health and safety of consumers and the public in general;
- protect the environment and reduce waste;
- enhance consumer confidence and limit consumer exploitation by increasing the number of products and processes that conform to established standards;
- enhance the quality, reliability and reputation of products produced or traded in the Community;
- harmonise national and East African standards with international standards to reduce costs, enhance compliance and develop trade opportunities;
- increase opportunities for companies within the Community to participate in international technology transfer through standardization, quality assurance, metrology and testing programmes; and
- facilitate regional and international trade.
In addition to the Customs law of the Community, Article 6 of the EAC Common Market Protocol (CMP) recognizes the SQMT Act as one of the legal instruments that governs the free movement of goods in the region making its effective implementation critical for the realization of the Common Market Protocol.
Provisions of the SQMT Act, 2006
The Act provides for the establishment of structures for implementation of SQMT activities:
a. East African Standards Committee (EASC)
The East African Standards Committee (EASC) is a Statutory committee with a mandate to coordinate the development and implementation of the SQMT activities in the EAC region with a view to reduce and eliminate NTBs and facilitate free movement of goods and services by ensuring that these activities are undertaken in line with the internationally recognized best practices.
Composition and specific mandate of the EASC is clearly defined in SQMT Act 2006.
The Committee has established technical subcommittees as provided in the Act for the fulfillment of its activities:
- Standards Management Committee (SMC);
- Quality Assurance Technical Subcommittee (QATSC);
- Metrology Technical Subcommittee (EAMET);
- Testing Technical Subcommittee (TTSC);
- Codex Forum; and
- TBT Forum.
Each technical subcommittee is established under defined Terms of Reference (ToR)and is constituted by both the Public and Private sector.
Workplans for the technical subcommittees are approved on the annual basis for implementation. The EASC monitors implementation of the technical committee workplans and any policy decisions recommended to the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and investment (SCTIFI).
b. East African Accreditation Board (EAAB)
The East African Accreditation Board (EAAB) is another Statutory committee established under the SQMT Act 2006 with a mandate to
- facilitate cooperation and coordinate accreditation activities to avoid duplication of functions of the national accreditation bodies and national focal points;
- facilitate accreditation of conformity assessment service providers within the Partner States; and
- promote the acceptability of test, certification and inspection results from accredited organizations within the Community.
c. Liaison Office
Clause 5(1) of the EAC SQMT Act establishes a Liaison Office designated under the EAC structure; the SQMT Department to provide administrative support to the committee and among others coordinate, monitor and provide technical support to all EASC Subcommittees in implementing their approved workplans including undertaking activities in accordance with the international best practices in addition to lobbying and representing EAC interests in regional and international fora.
Other Key Provisions within the SQMT Act 2006
The Act further defines requirements and provides guidance for;
- Development and harmonization of procedures for SQMT activities related to standards harmonization, conformity assessment and measurement systems;
- Adoption of harmonized standards by the partner States;
- Enforcement of compulsory standards;
- Declaration and acceptance of certification marks;
- Approximation and alignment of laws and regulations;
- the roles of the NSBs in regard to the SQMT activities and
- Development of regulations and frameworks to facilitate implementation of SQMT activities.