SWASA...The best idea since...
Shall we say since sliced bread or shall we just say since fong kongs?...Even before we get to what SWASA does as outlined in the articles contained in this magazine, you might want to know how this institution came about. It’s quite interesting that as we work at SWASA, we meet up with people who claim to have proposed the authority. For us working at SWASA, it becomes immaterial whose idea it was, we just agree with all of them that it was a good idea. Some quarters tell us that whenever there was a consumer complaint about a dodgy commodity or service on the market, there would be a big argument as to what the standard commodity or service should have been and they would all end up agreeing that they needed a standards Authority that would define on behalf of Swaziland what should be what and how. Other quarters report that when Swaziland goods were exported they would be subjected to all kinds of scrutiny for the very reason that it was known that there was no standards institution in the kingdom and therefore standards matters were dealt with arbitrarily. Others tell of separate incidents of when a foreign institution would advise an entity to consult the national standards body for quality and standards advise, only to conclude that the formation of such a body was still pending in Swaziland. Seven years down the line and with all the work that has been done, the question of “whose good idea was it anyway” fades away. All you need to do for yourself is to see how you, your family and your organization can benefit from this good idea. When you wake up in the morning and brush your teeth,
you benefit from the fluoride standard in your tooth paste; when you buy electricity for your family, you benefit from the standards that the Swaziland Electricity Company has adopted and at work, you benefit from the OHSAS standard. But you can see the greater benefits of the idea of SWASA by having a close relationship with SWASA. The least that you can do is to use the Information Centre to see and read the standards that govern your every day existence.
SWASA is happy and excited for the capacity that has come back with the 4 officers that were in Germany for 6 months. The terrible home-sickness is highly regretted but it is made up for by the professional confidence gained overseas. The 5th officer that later went to Germany achieved this in eight intensive weeks. This shows resilience and a good foundation in the SQAM subject. Knowledge that is accumulated and is not used becomes useless, that is why now SWASA is strategising on how of best apply these new gems. Unfaltering gratitude goes to the German Government; not only for this but also for the ProNet project.
The SWASA mandate would benefit greatly from a Swazi population that has been that has been educated about Standards and Quality from a very young age. The Korean Institutions KATS and KSA have spearheaded the introduction of quality and standards education in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions. This is done as part of the national education strategy that is supported through the Ministry of education by the standards body. If this properly implemented, with the relevant stakeholders on board, it ensures that the whole nation speaks standards in a period of about 11 years. With standards being a catalyst into the first world, such a national initiative would catapult Swaziland into 2022. SWASA has already has already nominated institutions that will form the National Teaching Forum for Quality and Standards which shall be meeting early in the first quarter of the financial year. This forum shall be engaged to implement for Swaziland, the model as proposed at the regional meeting hosted by the SABS in November 2013 in Pretoria. This should give the forum enough time to formulate a report for the international annual general meeting in August 2014. One of the results of the introduction of Quality and Standards education in schools is that the schooling education system will produce enough quality practitioners so that Swazi industry does not have to poach from SWASA when they need such skills. I suppose it does not even help the situation that the SWASA packages are not competitive. One only counts on the responsible corporate citizenship of the Swazi companies. So the sooner we teach standards and quality subjects in schools and colleges, the better. Even our SME will be standards conscious.
At the end of March, we had the closing session of the GIZ sponsored adaptation of the ProNet training to the Swaziland productivity culture. SWASA was highly honoured by GIZ to be the main partner of the Productivity Network Initiative. This gave SWASA the opportunity to recognise and appreciate the work done by SME development agencies of Swaziland. These included World Vision, Namboard, SEDCO, Technoserve, Smart Books, FECBIC, Lulote- BMEP, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Lutsango lwabomake and SWASA. I personally enjoy such inter-organisational exercises as they serve to inform the others what the other is doing and realise synergies that need to be explored. Through this GIZ sponsored Train the Trainer workshop, Swaziland is now in possession of 10 trainers for the ProNet skills. SEDCO has taken this collaboration further and offered to host the final workshop at which the trained trainers will get an opportunity to train actual SMEs on the adapted ProNet modules. The titles of these modules are namely: Business models and strategy, Production Management, Product Development and QM, and Financial Management.
The schools symposium will ideally be held before the trade fair, on 4th July 2014. Unlike in the previous years, the interaction with the schools will not be left to the end. The potential participating schools will enjoy a six month relationship with SWASA a period during which the school will receive target information about Quality and Standards. This will include a 2 hour presentation from SWASA and an invitation to the very important annual events of SWASA such as TC orientation; WSD and Metrology Day. The prizes will be solicited from our usual sponsors for this event. The other exciting event earmarked for this year is the SDOC Quality Awards. Companies to participate in this very special event have been identified and requested for their SDOC dossiers. The fun about these inaugural awards is that they remove the burden of proof from SWASA to entrant. This award will form the baseline for the future national quality awards that SWASA will facilitate. The quality assurance department of SWASA stands to benefit greatly from the outcome of this award.
The UNIDO project has gone on for a whole year now and one is highly appreciative of the assistance from the cooperative partner. This project is titled United Nations International Development Organisation. This is well and good but still, the saying “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” is still true. It is very important for SWASA to be very strategic as this project goes forward. The companies Act has been reviewed and updated and this calls for the Trade Metrology of Swaziland to be more agile. In short, the UNIDO Project must strengthen the SQAM institutions that are already on the ground, it is already a struggle to maintain and support the existing ones.
The Council of SWASA had the opportunity to greet the new Minister for Commerce, Industry and Trade earlier this year and this was a truly inspirational meeting. With a Minister that is a Quality practitioner himself, the Council received some well informed advice. The Minister insisted that SWASA must practice what they preach and implement ISO 9001 on their operations. Fortunately, this is a project that is already in place at SWASA. One of the beneficiaries of the GIZ training committed to implementing ISO 9001 at SWASA as his skill transfer project. The Minister also directed me to revive and augment the national association for quality and practitioners. This is an association that is crucial for the national quality inclusion program as proposed by SWASA in 2010. With SWASA having the Ministry of Health on board, the Minister believed that the standards for taking the livelihoods of Swaziland to the first world was half achieved. He stated that with smart private partnerships, standards can be taken very far into implementation.
Finally, the Minister urged the board to encourage the SWASA staff to be innovative during a strategy session so that SWASA is relaunched as an effective service delivery organisation. He pledged his support for the Council and encouraged them to continually communicate with him.
Looking forward, we see SWASA being remodelled into an Apex organisation that can serve the various standards and quality needs of Swaziland. We envision an organisation that is a catalyst to the advancement of both public and private entities through standards. The vision of His Majesty of transforming Swaziland into a first world country is possible. Listening to the passion behind his voice at the opening of the King Mswati III Airport recently, I was moved to believe it. I realised all we need is a mindset change in key people and key organisations like SWASA. As an organisation we need to stand up and go out there to the people with the standards and get them to appreciate them and live by them. Only this way will this best idea continue improving the world we live in.
The Quality Assurance Department will be the custodians of the SWASA mark for quality as it is through this department that quality testing and certification will be carried out. The department’s functionality will depend on local industry utilizing the Swazi National Standards that will have been developed by the Technical Department and further seeking to be certified ...
SWASA will be disseminating standards addressing technical problems in various sectors and will be encompassing many professions. People involved in these sectors and others will be invited o partake in Technical Committees. The sectors already identified are:
- Fresh Produce
- Prepackaged stuff ...
- In order for the people to be able to implement the standards, they must understand exactly what is implied in the various paragraphs within the standard. Standards-based training may be facilitated by SWASA staff or it may be done by a subcontracting company. Based on the type of standards that are on demand it is envisaged that SWASA may offer more than 10 courses per year. Training on standards forms part of the Standards Marketing Strategy of SWASA, since, as more people understand standards, the more they will be willing to implement them ...
The Swaziland Standards Authority’s Information Centre is a reference point for technical information on standards and quality issues within the Technical Department, and its basic objective is to provide a means for acquiring and disseminating information on standards and related matters from and to the stakeholders. Information is availed to SWASA clients and general public through the print media, radio, the SWASA website www.swasa.co.sz and by visiting the Centre ...