Table of Contents
The South African government recognises the increasingly instrumental role that quality standards play in international trade, its focus on strengthening the country’s technical support institutions. Not so long ago South African National Accreditation System (Sanas) hosted world accreditation day in which happens annually on 9th of June as this raises awareness of the importance of accreditation. This is due to the fact that in a variety of ways standards and loyalty to standards, the ability to write your own standards and the ability to implement quality assurance measures have increasingly become critical elements of international trade.
South African’s four technical support bodies, Sanas, National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS), South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) and National Metrology Institute of South African (NMISA) had a critical role to play in ensuring that the country met high quality standards. The important role played by these four institutions is lock in south African products into exports markets and lock out unsafe products which are harmful to our people and create unfair competition to local manufacturers and producers who work hard to meet our standards. South African had faced challenge of imported products coming into the country not meeting the local standards and competing with locally produced products in price but not in quality.
The South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) describes a standard as a published document which lists specifications and procedures established to ensure that a material, product, method or service is fit for its purpose and perform in the manner it was intended for.
Globalisation is increasing the demands on countries to demonstrate that they have the quality system to guarantee that products originating in their territories are safe and fit for purpose. The quality infrastructure system allows an economy to set norms and standards and test against those standards to determine whether products or services are fit for their intended purpose. In South Africa, it is referring to the quality system as the technical Infrastructure, also referred to as SQAM (standards, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology)CITATION Dem14 l 7177 (Demana, 2014).
Quality infrastructure is defined as the totality of the institutional framework, whether public or private, the output of which includes the process of formulating, issuing and implementing standards and the associated evidence of compliance (the relevant mix of inspection, testing, certification, metrology and accreditation), to improve the suitability of products, processes and services for their intended purposes, prevent barriers to trade and facilitate technological cooperation CITATION Int04 l 7177 (UNCTAD/WTO, 2004). QI came into existence because of the globalization of the international economy and increased consumer awareness CITATION She11 l 7177 (Sherif, 2011). QI refers to all aspects of accreditation, certification, inspection, metrology, standardization and testing. Before products can be put on the market, they need to be designed or produced according to a specific standard developed by a standardization body. The products need to be tested by an accredited testing laboratory to check if they meet the requirements of the relevant standard
Infrastructure is currently a hot topic in both the academic and popular literature. Various reasons are postulated for higher infrastructure investment; research on infrastructure investment, both local and international, suggests a positive (sometimes causal) relationship between higher infrastructure investment and higher economic growth CITATION Bog06 l 7177 (Bogetic & Fedderke, 2006), South Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in terms of a number of infrastructure variables CITATION Bog06 l 7177 (Bogetic & Fedderke, 2006), Infrastructure investment seems to be the politically prescribed prophylaxis of the South African economy. The reason for the investment in infrastructure seems to have shifted from primarily that of redistribution to that of encouraging higher economic growthCITATION Fed06 l 7177 (Fedderke & Perkins, 2006). Yet, the emphasis, both in research and in policy making, still seems to be on more infrastructure, rather than better infrastructure. This research note aims to critically analyse the lack of quality indicators in infrastructure empirics and to redirect attention to improving infrastructure quality in its various forms in South AfricaCITATION Fed06 l 7177 (Fedderke & Perkins, 2006).
BIBLIOGRAPHY Bogetic, Z., & Fedderke, J. (2006). International Benchmarking of South Africa’s Infractructure Performance. Journal of Development Perspectives. (Forthcoming).
Demana, T. (2014). Technical Infracture.
Fedderke, J., ; Perkins, P. L. (2006). Infrastructure Investment in Long-run Economic Growth: South Africa 1875-2001. World Development, 1037-1059.
SABS, web page of the South African Bureau of Standards, http://www.sabs.co.za, visited September
Sherif, E. A. (2011). Quality Infrastructure: The road towards Nation.
UNCTAD/WTO, I. T. (2004). Export Quality: Legal Metrology and International. Switzerland: International Trade Centre.