As made in Rwanda campaign continues to gain momentum with more locally produced goods entering the market, the need for standards is being emphasized to ensure that consumers are protected from products that may be harmful to their life as well as environment.
Ruhengeri Institute of Higher Education-INES Ruhengeri is one of the private investors that have invested in testing laboratories that are aimed at helping local manufacturers have their products tested and certified.
“The identity of a university which has ventured into Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-STEM activities has helped us venture into testing laboratories,” said Rev.Fr.Dr Fabien Hagenimana,University’s Rector.
Currently, the testing of products’ standards is being done by Rwanda Standards Board which sometimes receive huge numbers of products to be tested and certified, but years back a move to have private laboratories carry out testing has seen some investments in setting up these laboratories.
“Of course the public sector cannot work alone in ensuring standards especially in testing and certification, but what they can do is designate private laboratories to carry out these services.
He adds, “so we decided to put the standards of our laboratory to standards of not just limiting them to the didactic but rather to testing laboratories and that is how we ventured into that.”
The Made in Rwanda campaign started in 2015 is aimed at strengthening local production to curb down trade deficit as well as to promote the use of locally produced goods.
Hagenimana says that establishment of testing laboratories which shifted from didactic-serving as teaching laboratories to their current status was a result of research carried out by the University which showed that the community wanted laboratory the services.
“We also checked if we are doing the right business in terms of responding to real needs and so we had to check on our methodology which was as a result of the research which was conducted in 2008 whereby we tried to analyze the way the academic products and the market needs are matching,” he explained.
Main clients for the laboratories include; beverage and youth cooperatives and construction companies and all that need their products sampled.
“We have seen an increase in the client turn up who bring their products o be tested and this gives us confidence that what we are doing has impact in the society,” said Claudine Nirere, in charge Food and biochemistry laboratory.
The University has the Water Quality laboratory, Geotechnical laboratory, Food microbiology laboratory, Food and biochemistry laboratory and so far three laboratories have been designated by the standards body-RSB.
The laboratories carry out tests in areas of construction, water and water management, soil tests, food and beverages, among others.