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Celebrating World Metrology Day-2019

21 May 2019 at 19:38 | 1414 views

Sierra Leone Standards Bureau

Ministry of Trade and Industry

Celebrating World Metrology Day-2019

Welcome Address by Prof. Thomas B. R Yormah

Executive Director, Sierra Leone Standards Bureau

Mr. Chairman
Members of Parliament,
Honourable Ministers,
Members of the Diplomatic & Consular Corps – Head of the EU Delegation, UNIDO Country Representative, UNIDO Consultant, Dr. Shuakat Hussain Malik,
Senior Personnel of Ministries, Departments and Agencies,
Staff of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau,
The Media,
Participants from Civil Societies & Universities,
Distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen!

It is my pleasure to welcome all of you to the celebration of yet another World Metrology Day taking place within the premises of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau.

Mr. Chairman,

I crave your indulgence and that of our guests to permit me to, as usual, use the opportunity of this gathering to report on a number of transformative changes on-going at The Bureau. But first I will start with fundamentals.

One authority defines Metrology as the science of weights and measures, cascading to the determination of conformance to specifications (or technical requirements) and to the development of standards.

Standard is an adopted/accepted norm – a level of quality or attainment; something used as a measure/model in comparative evaluations. When we chose to adopt a norm our watchword must invariably bequality. The Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, by its name and mandate, is therefore the custodian of the National Quality Infrastructure and the official watchdog for the mainstreaming of quality and standards nation-wide.

Mr. Chairman

As a quality institution we, naturally, do undertake self-evaluation of our processes, products and services and we must be the first to know when our services are substandard/below par. As a university don, quality assessment has been my lifelong career. This explains the urgency with which I led management to launch a systems review of the operations of the Bureau shortly after taking up office. The purpose of the review is to sanitize our operations with a view to plug areas that lead to infraction of professional ethics and loss of public confidence in the integrity of our products and services. Clearly, direct contact between a client submitting samples for conformity assessment and the laboratory analysts is an unwholesome and therefore an unacceptable state of affairs - just as it is sensible to, as much as is possible, avoid contact between the examiner and the candidate taking the examination. The laboratory environment should strictly be for laboratory workers and access by the general public must be prohibited, except under official supervision. The turnaround times for analyses must be optimised in line with available resources and this information clearly communicated to our stakeholders in a Service Charter. These are just some of the scale-up measures underway at the Bureau as part of the on-going Systems Review. The current tangible face of this review is the reception desk that has been built in the entrance foyer. That desk will be occupied by the Sample Receptionist and an Administrative Receptionist who will serve as the interface between our clients and stakeholders and the professional and administrative staff of The Bureau. As expected these receptionists are set to undergo extensive training as part of our quality management as dictated by ISO standards.

Mr. Chairman

Just as we are carrying out our systems review the European Union support with UNIDO implementation arrived at the right time – like Heaven Sent! The EU support is to give capacity to the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau to manage the quality status of three (3) value chains – cocoa, cassava and palm oil. However, in order to properly execute this exercise our Management and Laboratory Systems need to be professionally scaled up to Accreditation level – as revealed by the Gap Analysis undertaken by the experts. The EU/UNIDO project is committed to achieving this milestone. As an addendum, the World Bank’s Sierra Leone Aggro-processing competitiveness project will also be giving capacity to the Bureau to address other value chains. The ultimate goal of both projects is to empower our MSMEs and SMEs – which constitute the bulwark of our presently weak Private Sector – by making them more commercially competitive to enable them penetrate the international markets. On behalf of the Government and people of Sierra Leone I express sincere gratitude to these funding agencies.

The International Community recently declared unsafe food as a global threat to human health and economies and called for urgent and greater action to address the issue of Food Safety. The European Union and World Bank support will ensure that the quality of our conformity tests, which determines whether or not food is safe for consumption and trade, will be internationally acceptable.

My prayers are that Government will hear our pleas for a concomitant scale-up of the salaries and other conditions of service for our staff to enable management to implement the proverbial “carrot and stick” approach to sanitising the operations of the Bureau.

Mr. Chairman

The urgent aim of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau this year is to increase its visibility by breaking out of its present alcove of Ferry Junction and establish presence in all provincial Headquarter towns, in addition to offices already at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay and at the Sierra Leone/Guinea border crossing at Gbalamuya. Negotiations are presently at advanced stages for the acquisition of office premises in Bo and Makeni.

The proposed metrication roll-out of metric cups and lengths in the general channel of trade will no doubt help to wing our activities further to our stakeholders while also buttressing The Bureau’s commitment to fairness in trade.

On another front but in the same vein, I am glad to report that the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau is in the process of fine-tuning a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed with a private company (as soon as the necessary clearance is obtained) for the establishment of a Building Materials and Technology Laboratory that will give capacity to the Bureau to start the quality and conformity testing of cement, iron rods, and other building materials. This laboratory will serve as the nucleus of the Material Science Laboratory to be established in the near future. That advent will help sanitise the construction industry which at the moment can best be described as the “WILD WILD WEST”.

Mr. Chairman

Please permit me to end with an anecdote that will serve as my World Metrology Day take-away. I am sure a number of us here would be curious to know the importance of measurements. So why do we measure?

It is a fact that we live in a contemporary culture that is crazy about numbers. We seek standardisation, we worship precision and we aspire to control. One school of thought is that the dominant belief of Western culture is that “numbers are what is real”; that you can only make it cogent/real if you can number it and it is only then can you manage and control it. We increasingly depend on numbers to know what we are doing for virtually everything. For instance we planned to start this programme at a specific numbered hour and end at a specific numbered hour – and as I am talking the Chairman is timing me by measuring the number of minutes I am taking – to ensure I am not unnecessarily verbose or garrulous! We ascertain our health with numbers – our bp, cholesterol level, blood sugar level, - even our state of obesity, called body mass index (BMI), etc. are all measured and recorded in numbers. We measure the robustness of the economies of countries by their GDPs, rate of inflation, foreign currency reserves, etc. In this contemporary world, therefore, we really cannot do without numbers and measurements.

With that Mr. Chairman,

I wish all participants a pleasant World Metrology Day and a productive and successful meeting.

I thank you for your attention!