Testing lab opens in Zimbabwe for businesses to test, certify goods for export
Businesses working in Zimbabwe’s food and agro-processing sector now have access to a new, state-of-the-art testing laboratory. A Chromatography Trace Elements Laboratory, which tests food products for safety and quality, was unveiled at the Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ). The lab will help businesses test their products for safety and quality so that they meet international standards for export, giving them a competitive edge when exporting to global markets.
The facility was made possible through a partnership by the European Union, the International Trade Centre (ITC) and SAZ, as part of efforts to upgrade the national standards, quality assurance and testing infrastructure in Zimbabwe. The lab was funded by the European Union under the Trade and Private Sector Development Programme (TPSDP), which is managed by ITC. ITC arranged for international experts to help design the laboratory and provide training to SAZ technicians in the proper use of the lab equipment.
Speakers at the opening ceremony on 4 May 2016 in Harare included the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Mike Bimha; the head of the European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe, Ambassador Philippe Van Damme; the SAZ Director-General, Ms. Eve Gadzikwa; and ITC Senior Trade Promotion Officer Mr. Silencer Mapuranga.
Minister Bimha said: ‘This laboratory will be of benefit to organizations that will be exporting to the European Union, as they will be able to verify the conformity of their products against set standards and specifications. This will indeed promote trade with the European Union in the framework of trade preferences given by the Interim Economic partnership. This will also benefit organizations trading in the continent, in the region and locally. This initiative will go a long way in ensuring food safety and quality with respect to imports and exports, which is in line with the government’s initiative to ensure safety and quality of local and imported products.’
Ambassador Van Damme said: ‘The laboratory is a welcome development to Zimbabwe’s quality and standards landscape. It can help Zimbabwe to export a wider variety of products and enhance acceptability of these products locally, regionally and internationally.’
The lab’s range of services includes tests for vitamins, aflatoxin and pesticide residues in food products. The lab is set to undergo an accreditation process so that test reports issued by SAZ can be internationally recognized.
Under the same programme, ITC has provided assistance in areas such as training of trainers on quality standards, raising awareness of the importance of standards and assisting SAZ in upgrading its standardization and conformity assessment services to better support small and medium-sized enterprises. In this context, the occupational health and safety management system certification scheme of the SAZ was accredited by the South African National Accreditation System. Such certifications are crucial for businesses to obtain export permits.
These activities are designed to increase the competitiveness of Zimbabwe’s private sector in the global market, as well as enable the country to comply with partnership agreements, such as the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (i-EPA), which Zimbabwe has signed with the European Union.
The European Union’s TPSDP Programme supports Zimbabwe’s economic recovery, diversification and poverty reduction by strengthening the private sector, business associations and intermediary organizations. The programme also aims to strengthen the capacity of all actors involved in the implementation of the i-EPA between Zimbabwe and the European Union, including the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development. For more information, visit www.intracen.org. Follow ITC on Twitter: @ITCnews
About the Standards Association of Zimbabwe
The Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) facilitates market access for businesses by providing laboratory testing services for export products to accredited and internationally accepted levels. The mission of SAZ is to facilitate the development and use of standards to enhance Zimbabwe's competitiveness and safeguard the welfare of communities.