The Kingdom of Eswatini’s Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Trade (MCIT) has, through the SADC TRF project, been able to run a Quality Awards Programme to the tune of $50 000 for two consecutive years, complemented by additional Government funding.
The Quality Awards Programme is open to all organisations (large and small) in the public and private sectors.
MCIT introduced the Annual Quality Awards Competition on 26 October 2017 to promote an effective national quality environment for the business community in Eswatini. This was also, by extension, the execution of a decision made by the SADC Committee of Ministers of Trade and Industry in 2009 to implement a SADC Quality Award Competition aimed at encouraging businesses, private and public sector institutions to implement standards and quality procedures in their operations.
Winners from the national awards competitions would be eligible to be included in the SADC Annual Quality Awards competition. Eswatini opted to use the SADC TRF, which is a mechanism for financial and technical support granted to eligible SADC Member States, to assist them to implement regional integration commitments. The TRF is funded by the EU under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) envelope.
The National Quality Infrastructure (NQI) is a critical enabler for any economy’s integration into regional and global markets, and thereby promoting the country’s sustainable economic development. The MCIT is charged with the responsibility of stimulating the capacity of businesses to produce goods and services that compete favourably in local, regional and global markets through adherence to national, international quality standards and regulatory requirements.
Eswatini Quality Awards Competition is an integral part of the Regulatory and Quality Policy (NRQP) approved by Cabinet in 2010 and its Implementation Plan (2013) and, as such, it has the necessary political ownership. In his statement at the 2018 Eswatini Quality Awards Ceremony, the Right Honourable Prime Minister Mr Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini, stated that the hosting of the event “signals the importance attached to excellence in the production of quality goods and services as a vehicle towards economic growth”.
The Quality Awards Competition has also been embraced by relevant stakeholders, particularly the private sector, as evidenced by the number of companies participating, especially micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), rising to the challenge of competing on a national scale, thus embedding a quality culture in Eswatini.
Since the commencement of the Eswatini Quality Awards, there is a noticeable increase in quality awareness among the public and private sector organisations. For example, following participation in the competition, the National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory (NTRL) and the National Molecular Reference Laboratory (NMRL) have improved implementation of their laboratory quality management systems and have now achieved accreditation.Accreditation is the process of providing recognition that an organisation is competent to perform certain tasks/tests. Accreditation determines the technical competence, integrity and impartiality of organisations providing conformity assessment services such as testing, calibration, certification, and inspection based on international standards.
Significance to the SADC regional economic integration agenda
The Eswatini Quality Awards Programme is part of the overall SADC agenda to enhance a quality culture in the region. Both the SADC Standardisation, Technical Regulations, Quality Assurance, Accreditation and Metrology, known as the Technical Barrier to Trade (TBT) programme, and the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap (2015-2063) require Member States to implement measures such as national quality awards to stimulate competitiveness. Through their participation in the National Quality Awards Competition, Eswatini, companies are now active entrants in the SADC Quality Awards. In 2017, Eswatini Railways won the SADC Service of the Year award.
Key lessons learned
- That organisations/companies are progressively improving the implementation of the required standards/management systems.
- Comparatively companies are increasingly giving information and supporting documents without any fear.
- That there is an increase in the number of MSMEs and therefore a belief that the Government Strategy of supporting MSMEs and transforming the Kingdom of Eswatini‘s economy to an export driven economy would be achieved through this programme.
- It was also noted that some organisations/companies still lag behind in the implementation of quality standards/management systems, hence the need to continue with the programme as a way of embracing the culture of quality.
Eswatini Quality Awards are one of the vehicles that support large enterprises and MSMEs to participate in local, regional and international markets. The quality awards programme will be sustainable as the Government of Eswatini has committed to providing resources towards this programme, considering the benefits realised from its implementation.
The Ministry will also embark on providing training programmes to assist organisations/companies to acquire knowledge and understanding of the relevant standards. There is a need for National Quality Infrastructure Institutions to provide subsidized services to the MSMEs.
Eswatini Quality Awards Categories
l Category 1:Eswatini Company or Organisation of the Year, with wide implementation of the quality principles covering all essential key business elements;
l Category 2:Eswatini Product of the Year, awarded on the product that best reflects commitment to quality;
l Category 3:Eswatini Service of the Year, awarded on the basis of a locally-delivered service that best reflects a commitment to quality;
l Category 4:Eswatini Exporter of the Year, awarded on the basis of significant progress in commencing or expanding exports to new or wider markets by introducing quality in their company;
l Category 5:Eswatini Quality Ambassador of the Year, given to an individual that has made significant input into quality advancement within their organisation and Eswatini Quality Infrastructure at large; and
l Category 6:Eswatini Conformity Assessment Body of the Year, awarded on the basis of competence in implementing accreditation standards such as: ISO/IEC 17020 or ISO/IEC 17021 or ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO 15189.
The Call for Entry was made through advertising, using both local newspapers and Eswatini TV. The adjudication process was conducted by professional judges coming from quality infrastructure institutions and other organisations who have massive experience in the quality standards and systems.
In 2017, 32 companies entered the competition, with the following receiving quality awards in their respective categories: Royal Swaziland Sugar Corporation Ltd; Eswatini Meat Industries (Pty) Ltd; Tintsaba Craft; Eswatini Railways; JR Modes (Pty) Ltd t/a; Bethel Court Vineyard Hotel; Eswatini Water Service Corporation (Micro Biology Laboratory & Chemistry Laboratory); and Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy (Fuel Testing Laboratory).
In 2018, there were 42 entrants to the contest, with Eswatini Railways; Eswatini Meat Industries; National Molecular Reference Laboratories, Lubombo Referral Hospital Ministry of Health and Swaziland National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory scooping awards.
Name: Priscilla Phindile Dlamini
Title: Chief Quality Systems Administrator
Organization: Regulatory and Quality Infrastructure Development Department
Phone: +268 24047509