The vision of the Swaziland Standards Authority (SWASA) is to be the recognised centre of excellence and preferred partner in the provision of standards-based solutions in Swaziland and beyond calls for a serious and honest introspection of self as an organisation. The recent strategic plan set to the period 2013 to 2016 revealed some gaps that need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Such shortfalls, it is comforting to report, were not for the lack of conscientious effort from within the organisation but were realised to be due to an ever-changing and ever-increasing demand for better and more efficient products and services from SWASA by all stakeholders. Starting from the shareholders, to the Council and staff; and finally to the Swazi nation at large, each has a need that needs to be met through informed and calculated moves by SWASA. Entering into its third three-year strategic period in April 2013, it would seem, the organisation can no longer plead infancy.
SWASA Memorandum of Understanding with ASTM
ASTM International is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world-and are known for their high technical quality and market relevancy. The organization was originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and was formed over a century ago, when a forward-thinking group of engineers and scientists got together to address frequent rail breaks in the burgeoning railroad industry. Their work led to standardization on the steel used in rail construction, ultimately improving railroad safety for the public. As the century progressed and new industrial, governmental and environmental developments created new standardization requirements, ASTM International answered the call with consensus standards that have made products and services safer, better and more cost-effective.
Today, ASTM International continues to play a leadership role in addressing the standardization needs of the global marketplace. ASTM International is at the forefront in the use of innovative technology to help its members do standards development work, while also increasing the accessibility of ASTM International standards to the world. ASTM International services are utilised by a diverse range of industries that have come together under its umbrella to solve standardization challenges.
In recent years, stakeholders involved in issues ranging from safety in recreational aviation, to fibre optic cable installations in underground utilities, to homeland security, have come together under ASTM International to set consensus standards for their industries. Standards developed at ASTM International are the work of over 30,000 members. These technical experts represent producers, users, consumers, government and academia from over 120 countries.
The Swaziland Standards Authority (SWASA) has signed an MoU with ASTM International as a means of gathering as much technical assistance as possible for the effective development of the local quality infrastructure. The initiative by SWASA to form an alliance with an established organization such as ASTM International shows the Authority’s vision for the development of a quality driven culture and the improvement of the quality of life in Swaziland through standardization and certification.
As a result of this partnership SWASA will be in a position to benefit from training offered by ASTM International, technical support from experts in the field of quality and being associated with a wide network of technical experts. Such benefits will equip the Authority to further enhance the quality of service that it has to offer to local industry.
To find out more about ASTM International you may visit their website by clicking on their logo above.
SWASA’s core business as spelt out in the Standards and Quality Act (10) 2003, is the development of Swaziland National Standards, a systematic and highly specialised activity propelled by the SWASA Technical Department through its Standards Development Unit. Central to standardisation activities would be the SWASA mission statement which is“To promote quality principles and facilitate the use of standards to reduce technical barriers to trade and investment, ensure a sustainable Swazi economy and to safeguard the nation’s health, safety and environment”. SWASA standardisation activities should be in line with international and regional standards-setting best practices, which are generally guided and governed by the following principles:
• Standards that are developed should be relevant and up to date.
• National Standards should be in tandem with the Country’s National Developmental Strategies and goals.
• Be developed in line with regional and international practices.
• The standards development process must observe the WTO TBT Code of Good Practice for the preparation, adoption and application of standards.
The gradual diminishing of tariff and quota restrictions which were counterproductive to trade during the last century has been marked by the recent emergence of Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) which are presented as quality standards, technical regulations and conformity assessment procedures. Swaziland is a developing nation which is a signatory the WTO TBT agreement, which makes it imperative that SWASA, the National Standards Body takes cognisance of the dictates of this agreement in the execution of its mandate.
SWASA works through Technical Committees (TC) composed of affected and interested groups and individuals. The responsibility of the TC is to meet as regularly as the Technical Secretary of SWASA will determine until, the standard being discussed is finalised. It is worth mentioning that TC’s are independent bodies whose work is purely voluntary, with SWASA assuming a coordinating role in the standardisation processes. SWASA is grateful to individual members of technical committees who voluntarily offer their time and expertise to the Authority for the betterment of our society and economy. The Authority also appreciates industrial and commercial concerns and departments who will avail their personnel and facilities for the preparation of Swaziland National Standards.
The following definitions have been included in this section since the following terms or phrases would be used throughout SWASA Technical Process:
Processing a standard by starting at the Public Enquiry stage due to its popularity, or national emergency and non-expectance or acceptance of opposition to the work.
Standards Approval Committee (SAC)
Three members of the SWASA Council plus the Director responsible for tabling the Final Draft Standards to full Council for declaration as Swaziland National Standards.
Standards Endorsement Committee (SEC):
The SEC is an internal organ of SWASA responsible for assessing the completed work of a Technical Committee for recommendation for Declaration as a National Standard or reprocessing pending an Appeal.
Sub Committees (SC):
A SC is a committee formed from the mother TC to oversee certain parts of the standardisation process.
Technical Committee (TC):
A TC is a group of experts, affected and interested parties whose responsibility is to deliberate the SWASA provided working draft with the aim of producing a standard that is aligned to international trends whilst addressing the targeted National exigency.
Technical Advisory Committee (TAC):
The TAC is an internal organ of SWASA responsible for evaluating proposed New Work Items for recommendation onto the SWASA Work Programme
Working Groups (WG):
A WG is formed by a TC or SC to oversee specific parts of the standardisation process.
Different stages in the development Swaziland National Standards (SZNS)
i. PRELIMINARY STAGE
On receipt of a request from industry, commerce or the general public to develop a standard, the Technical Officer for Standards Development (TOSD) will document and advise the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) who will justify the project to the Director for approval.
ii. PROPOSAL STAGE
A Notice of Intent to develop the proposed standard will then be published after which a TC will be formed from interested groups and individuals. Alternatively, the project will be assigned to an existing TC. In a prior consultation with the proponent, the TOSD will have been able to categorise the project and ascertained the expected composition of the TC, chairing of proceedings and the proponent’s role in the proceedings.
iii. PREPARATORY STAGE
A working draft (WD) will be prepared by the SWASA Technical Secretaries or by a working group (WG) on instruction from the TC, after which the schedule for the project will be developed.
iv. COMMITTEE STAGE
The WD will then enter the committee stage where it undergoes an interactive process where it will be discussed until it is ready to be made available to the public for comments. At this stage the technical committee will have concluded that it might be ready for application onto the local economy. This might be a long process that involves a number of Technical Committee meetings. The success of this stage will be determined by consensus amongst TC members. The TC chairperson will be responsible for directing the proceedings of the meetings, that due process is followed and for ensuring that consensus is reached. The product of this stage will be called the Committee Draft. The final committee draft will then be published as a Public Review Draft (PRD).
v. ENQUIRY STAGE
The public review draft (PRD) is circulated to the public for a period of 60 days for review and submission of comments. This period will be reduced if the standard is being fast-tracked (see definitions). The Technical Secretary will be responsible for ensuring that the PRD is effectively circulated and for receiving and documenting of the comments from the public.
The Comments Disposal Stage will ensue as soon as the enquiry period closes whereby the TC sits to consider all the public comments and includes all those that might impact negatively or positively on the committee draft. Should the public comments indicate that there are some areas that are might be too controversial; the committee may invite the commenting party in order to settle the matter for the wider acceptance of the final standard.
Should the public comments not raise any tangible concerns the TC votes by letter ballot or by recorded vote to ratify the draft, after which it is taken to the endorsement stage.
vi. ENDORSEMENT STAGE
A second level review by the SEC will verify that the standard development procedures were followed, after which it will be endorsed as a Final Draft Standard (FDS). At this stage the Technical Secretary will perform a final editorial scan of the FDS. It will then be submitted to the Director for preparation for the approval stage. In case the SEC identifies anomalies in the procedures, the draft will be taken back to the committee stage.
vii. APPROVAL STAGE
The Director will then present the FDS to the SAC of the SWASA Council for final approval, after which it will be declared as a Swaziland National Standard (SZNS).
viii. PUBLICATION STAGE
On approval by the Council the SWASA Technical Secretary will conduct a final edit to verify conformity with the applicable editorial requirements and then arrange for publication and dissemination of the standard through the SWASA Information Centre.
ix. MAINTANANCE STAGE
SWASA standards will be maintained with the objective of keeping them up to date and technically valid. This may include, besides the normal five yearly reviews, the publication of amendments, the interpretation of a clause and any other review that might happen at the source of the original draft of the standard, should it exist. Tracking of a standard to ensure that it remains relevant will be carried out by the SWASA field agent who will then inform the TOSD who will raise a review process if there need be. The TC to which it was assigned will be re-convened for the purposes of the review process.
SWASA’s main responsibility is to localise relevant international standards as well as to ensure the development of uniquely Swazi standards. Due to the amount of intellectual property that goes into the formation of the standards, they will come at a cost. Judging from the immense benefits that emanate from the practice of standardisation, standards are affordable. Once a client has bought the standard, they will be advised of any updates that may occur on the standard. This is a once-off investment that will see your business or practice becoming more viable and sustainable.
11th Street, 2nd FLOOR, SMITHCO INDUSTRIAL BUSINESS CENTRE
PLOT # 471, KING MSWATI III AVENUE,
WEST MATSAPHA INDUSTRIAL SITE, MATSAPHA
P. O. BOX 1399,
KINGDOM OF SWAZILAND
Tel: (+268) 2518 4633
Fax:(+268) 2518 4526
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 ...