The South African Quality Awards

It is my honour to welcome you to the inaugural South African National Quality Awards function.

“Quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten”, a slogan from one of the world’s top brands in luxury goods.

The concept “Quality” can be contentious as it is often interpreted in different ways.

So to be clear, today we are talking about quality in the context of the pragmatic interpretation, as the superiority of something in business, engineering and manufacturing. The specific context for today being the application of the tools made available through the South African Technical Infrastructure.

These tools are the standards, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology administered primarily through the related institutions such as the National Metrology Institute of South Africa, the South African Bureau of Standards and the South African National Accreditation System who are also the coowners of this event.

At the same time I use this opportunity to acknowledge the integral part that commercial service providers play in the offering of services in the quality assurance domain, such as testing, certification, inspection and calibration.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have also said that we are determined that the Standards, Quality Assurance and Metrology institutions need to play a more strategic role in advancing industrial policy objectives.

Therefore during the development of the second Industrial Policy Action Plan (also known as IPAP 2) the role of the South African Technical Infrastructure was enhanced to optimise its role in the advancement of industrial policy. As government, we rely on a well functioning Technical Infrastructure system to serve as a foundation for internationally acceptable technical regulations. This foundation will ensure that we are able to “lock in” in our exports to markets which require high standards and “lock out” low quality and unsafe imports into the domestic market.

To achieve these objectives, proper implementation will be critical, which in turn requires being increasingly pro-active and greater collaboration amongst all the stakeholders. An important component of such collaboration is that stakeholders must be our eyes and ears in the marketplace.

In this regard, a key challenge we have identified is inadequate market surveillance. Our challenges relating to market surveillance is in fact detrimental to the economy as a whole, as leaving the domestic market and consumer exposed to unsafe non-compliant products serves to undercut the productive base of the manufacturing sector and is harmful to the consumer as well as to the environment.

Therefore one of the immediate steps we are taking is pre-market surveillance at the border with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications and the South African Revenue Service working together to put the necessary systems in place.

Therefore one of the immediate steps we are taking is pre-market surveillance at the border with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications and the South African Revenue Service working together to put the necessary systems in place.

Programme Director, there are a few other key matters I want to address this afternoon. Firstly, the Technical Infrastructure institutions have indicated that there is substantial lead time in the development of standards, be it national standards or measurement standards.

In IPAP2 we have developed the Key Action Programmes to reflect these dynamics and the sequencing between the different elements of the Technical Infrastructure Institutions. In this way, more than ever before, our initiatives are beginning to “talk to each other” in a way that will ensure that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I congratulate you all on your efforts to make this happen.

Secondly, to remain abreast of international developments, the South African Technical Infrastructure institutions are all members of the respective international organisations that set the rules in their field of operation. So, by participating in the activities of these bodies, our institutions not only influence international developments in our national interest, but their participation also acts as an early warning system where trading partners are considering the imposition of potential Technical Barriers to Trade.

Thirdly, one of the Key Action Programmes is the development of a tracking system for technical regulations. This system allow sectors to which a specific technical regulation applies – and to which the information will be disseminated- the opportunity to provide their opinions on how this will affect them in terms of market access.

Fourthly, this Quality Awards ceremony comes at an opportune time in that it allows a broader spectrum of stakeholders to be made aware of the internationally recognised services that are provided by the Technical Infrastructure Institutions in their respective fields and to promote the benefits that industry derives from the use of these.

We therefore encourage all our stakeholders to use this event for further networking and furthering your knowledge regarding quality. the dti sees the continuous improvement of quality as a key element of developing sustainable value chains to enable companies to successfully compete in global markets.

Finally, I would like to congratulate all the winners and finalists on this
achievement, but also every company that made the effort to enter.

Your success stories bear testimony to the value that the Technical Infrastructure has added to the quality improvement of your products and services. Although quality comes at a cost, this is outweighed by the benefits of creating and maintaining a competitive edge as well as the management of risks associated with the rejection of products and services due to noncompliance. As you would have gathered, the winners of the respective categories will be submitted as finalists to the SADC Quality Awards that will take place in 2011.

I know you will also do us proud in the regional arena. All the best for your future endeavours, may we as a collective go from strength to strength in achieving our goals related to economic growth, employment and empowerment.
Thank you!

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