On June 13, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) formally adopted the ISOlution system and accompanying videoconference facility which were installed through a grant from the USAID Hub. ISOlution is a web-based global system used by International Standards Organization (ISO) members to develop standards that facilitate international trade. With access to the system and a videoconference facility, Uganda will be able to comment remotely on international standards that are up for revision or creation, saving the country money from travel expenses and increasing the ease and efficiency of its participation.
Eng. Dr. Ben Manyindo, Executive Director of UNBS, and Marc Shiman, Chief of Party of the USAID Hub, signed the paperwork to hand over the system and videoconference facility. “It adds a lot of value when it comes to the operations of this organization,” said Eng. Dr. Manyindo. “We can do even more with this facility than just sending one or two people from the region. Now we can get the private sector also on board and participate in some of the critical areas of standards harmonization.”
Since February 2015, with the signing of the U.S.-EAC Cooperation Agreement, the USAID Hub has worked hand-in-hand with EAC Partner States to build their capacity to meet international commitments on technical barriers to trade (TBTs) and sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS) in an effort to promote safe and transparent regional and international trade. The USAID Hub’s partnership with UNBS, in particular, has been successful. Following a USAID Hub training in 2017 where UNBS staff learned how to use ISOlutions, UNBS made a commitment to implement ISOlutions in the country. The handover ceremony marked the achievement of this commitment.
In addition, Uganda’s adoption of ISOlution opens the possibility of introducing a regional ISOlution platform. Uganda is the second EAC Partner State to use the system, following Kenya, and Rwanda is set to follow. With three countries using the system, the EAC can explore the benefits of establishing a regional platform that will encourage other Partner States to participate in international standards development and allow the submission of regional positions.
Speaking on behalf of USAID/Uganda, Patricia Habu, Trade Specialist, said, “We are proud to have supported UNBS to reduce technical barriers to trade and facilitate safe and transparent international trade. We look forward to seeing the benefits from ISOlution translate into greater trade for Ugandan businesses and, if other countries follow your example, greater trade for the entire EAC region.”