By Madi S. Njie

Prestige Security Company were awarded winners of the National Quality Award 2019, level 1 (Bronze).

Unique Solutions 2017 level 1 winners took Level 2  (Silver); the University of The Gambia – level 3 (Gold) and Medicine Control Agency took Level 4(Diamond).

The Gambia’s Finance Minister who deputised for the Minister ofTrade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MoTIRIE) hailed the First National Quality Awards ceremony organised by The Gambia Standards Bureau, in collaboration with the MoTIRIE.

Mambury Njie said the objectives of the Award are to raise awareness on quality and thereby enhance our quality culture and to promote interest in quality management principles by our enterprises.

He added that the aim is intricately linked to the ideals of regional integration in ECOWAS, a portfolio that falls under MoTIRIE.  “Since inception, the ECOWAS Commission continues to pursue diligently the integration of the regional market and to increase intra-regional trade,” he noted.

He said the National Quality Policy of The Gambia has been updated and fully aligned with the ECOWAS Regional Quality Policy. “The policy clearly articulates the challenges, roles and responsibilities of those responsible for the various pillars of the Quality Infrastructure and indeed the important role of the private sector, civil society actors and consumer awareness,” he said.

Mr Njie further said the ECOWAS Commission spearheaded the conduct of a Regional Quality Award for the first time in 2017, which is to become a biannual event. He said the competition was conducted at the national level.

“In consultation with all Member States Standard Bodies and adopting international best practices, the West Africa Quality System Programme put together a set of criteria and defined a number of Categories to compete.” You have Diamond at the Excellence Level, Gold for Encouragement of Excellence, Silver for Quality Control and Bronze for the Level of Commitment to Quality. “These Categories and Levels are such that any enterprise regardless of size or resources can participate and compete.  The criteria are based on the requirements of the internationally-recognized Quality Management System known as ISO 9001, latest version released in 2015. In fact, those who qualify at the Excellence Level and, automatically eligible to compete at the ECOWAS Regional Quality Awards must be Certified to this ISO 9001 standard. This is what differentiates this Award from others.  Indeed, the certification to this standard is the de facto passport of goods and services across borders and for guaranteed value…. February 2018 witnessed the establishment of the ECOWAS Quality Agency to oversee and manage all aspects of quality of goods and services, to ensure that goods and services are traded in the region without any non-tariff barriers, so-called Technical Barriers to Trade.  In addition, the investment and commitment to implement this Standard prepares companies and organisations to take full advantage of the African Free Trade Area.  It was therefore with a sense of achievement that The Gambia fielded two companies already certified to ISO 9001 during the 2017 Regional Quality Awards that was held in Abidjan,” Mr Njie stated.

He urged and encouraged all our enterprises, Institutions and Organisations to take this NQA seriously because through this platform you can obtain international visibility and recognition in the area of quality, which no other award accords you. He congratulated the winners and encouraged them to continue the journey leading to ISO 9001 certification.

Papa Secka, Director General of Gambia Standards Bureau for his part said we have a number of national awards in this country, but this one is unique.

“It’s the only one that recognizes and rewards investments and commitment to quality by enterprises, based entirely on the flagship international standard for quality known as the ISO 9001 Quality Management System,” he said.

Mr Secka said the Award is internationally recognized Standard by which an enterprise/institution/organisation, regardless of size or field of operation, can proof that its operations will produce products or services of acceptable quality. It’s often referred to as the passport of goods and services.

“ISO made a survey of companies certified to this standard in the world, it turned out that China had the highest number.  This in itself is enough to signal why our enterprises and organisations should embrace this standard,” he said.

Mr Secka recounted that one of the first in the world is the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award in the USA which was established by the U.S. Congress in 1987.  “Similarly, the Bureau is convening this Award to serve as a platform to raise awareness of quality management and recognize enterprises/institutions/organizations that have implemented a quality management system at whatever level one may be.  Quality is a journey to performance excellence.   And for it to be objective and thus receive credence and acceptance from far and near, it must be based on an objectively recognised system.  This Award is expected to also enhance the culture of quality among us consumers,” DG Secka.

Secka further noted that the Bureau had been established by Government and tasked to support and facilitate the implementation of relevant standards in order to promote competitiveness of our enterprises, but also enhance the delivery of high quality services by both the public and private sectors.   “From the beginning of our operations in 2012, we began with the development of the relevant and priority standards as the basis of the other services we are tasked with, such as testing, inspection, certification and metrology.   As we speak, enterprises can obtain any standard they need right here at a fraction of its nominal cost and receive support for its implementation, can calibrate their measurement devices for accurate weighing, request inspection, testing and even certification affordably. The Bureau provided coaching and technical guidance to five enterprises which received internationally-recognized certification to HACCP for the first time in the history of this country.   The Bureau facilitated the training and international certification of nine Lead Auditors of the ISO 9001 QMS and ten certified to ISO 22001 Food Safety Management System.  The Bureau is at an advanced stage of setting up the first Certification Body.  With these in place you shall not look for these services any longer from abroad at prohibitive costs.  It’s our own auditors who conducted the audits for all the enterprises at the Bureau’s cost, just to illustrate,” Mr Secka said.

Mr Habib Jeng Board Chairman of The Gambia Standards Bureau delivered the closing remarks. Jalimadi Suso entertained the audience, alongside a drama episode.

Ends

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