STANDARD: TECHNICAL COMMITTES


Since the previous missions, BBN has established 9 Technical Committees, some of which also have Subcommittees reporting to them rather than establishing a technical committee for every new project. This is a positive development. Unfortunately, the Technical Committee membership is similar to many developing countries, with representatives of the authorities dominating the few representatives from private sector associations. BBN expresses the lack of interest in standards development work by industry, producers and importers, but on the other hand the BBN system does not yet provide incentives for the private sector to become more involved and influence the process due to the predominance of the presence of authorities.

The standards projects are basically decided by BBN staff and the Director. There is little effort, other than the sending of a few letters of invitation, to find out what the needs of the private sector is or to really get the major enterprises involved in technical committee work. BBN also currently places conditionality on the persons that are invited to technical committee meetings in that they are supposed to be experts in the subject matter. Although this sounds fine in theory, the consequence is that business realities are frequently shut out, and standards may be technically sound but impossible to implement within the production and manufacturing realities of Burundi.

BBN provides the Secretariat for the various technical committees and their subcommittees, whereas the chairperson is chosen from other members. This is very useful system for developing countries and should be retained. It allows BBN to steer and manage the committee activities properly, yet gives the stakeholders a say in the governance of technical committees. The initial committee drafts are normally provided by BBN, and more often than not they are adoptions of international, regional or other national standards. This is part with the situation in most developing countries. The EAC SQMT Act, 2007 is very clear in that Partner States have to adopt East African Standards without any changes to the text within six months of them having been ratified by the EAC Council of Ministers.