Freetown, Monday, 20th May 2019- The Sierra Leon e Standards Bureau on Monday held a symposium to observe World Metrology Day with the theme “The International System of Units- Fundamentally Better.”
In his statement, Professor Thomas Yormah, Executive Director of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau defined Metrology as the science of weights and measures, cascading to the determination of conformance to specifications (or technical requirements) and to the development of standards. He described the Bureau as the custodian of the National Quality Infrastructure and the official watchdog for the mainstreaming of quality and standards nationwide.
Professor Yormah further stated that based on the critical role the Bureau operates, made him to launch a system review of within the institution shortly after taking up office as Executive Director. He said the purpose of the review was to sanitize the work of the Bureau to ensure a restoration of the institution’s integrity and public trust. “Clearly, direct contact between a client submitting samples for conformity assessment and the laboratory analysts is an unwholesome and therefore an unacceptable state of affairs- just as it is sensible to, as much as possible , avoid contact between the examiner and the candidate taking the examination”, he assured. He added that he had ensured that the laboratory environment is strictly meant for laboratory staff and access by the general public was prohibited except under official supervision. He said as the Bureau was on the verge of completing the System Review process, the European Union (E.U) support UNIDO implementation arrived at the right time like Heaven sent. “The EU support is to give capacity to the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau to manage the quality status of three (3) Value chains- cocoa, cassava and palm oil.” The Director disclosed that in order to ensure a properly executed o project, the Bureau is being scaled up to Accreditation level, which he emphasized was revealed by the Gap analysis that was undertaken by the UNIDO experts. He also said that the World Bank was also supporting the Bureau through the Agro-processing competitiveness project which aimed at addressing other value chains. He noted that the ultimate goal of both projects is aimed at empowering our MSMEs and SMEs- which constitute the bulwark of the country’s weak private sector. Professor Yormah expressed his sincere gratitude to E.U and World Bank for funding these projects. The Executive Director said that the Bureau’s overall aim this year was to increase its visibility and establish presence in all provincial headquarter towns and roll out the metric cups and lengths in the general channel of trade.
Mrs. Mariatu Swaray, UNIDO Country Representative-Sierra Leone said measurements or metrology had become increasingly important as Government works to regenerate economics and science and technology become the engines of economics growth and prosperity. She said metrology as a pillar for trade, scientific comparison, innovation and emerging technologies, technical cooperation, or even simple exchange of information. She said the celebration of the event with the global theme “The International System of Units-Fundamentally Better” could not be more important as the significant revisions to the International System of Units (the SI) since its inception came into effect today. Mrs. Swaray further stated that metrology or the science of measurement plays a central role in scientific discovery and innovation, industrial manufacturing and international trade, in improving the quality of life and in protecting the global environment. She emphasized the importance of metrology in the actualization of the SDGs, and disclosed that UNIDO had developed and published a new brochure, “The role of Metrology in the context of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.” She added that UNIDO was working in many countries across the globe to assist metrology labs become accredited. She said UNIDO supported the establishment and strengthening of the metrology institutes and calibration laboratories, built technical capacities and helped in providing state-of-the-art equipment in Sierra Leone and other countries.
Declaring the workshop open, the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr. Abraham Sesay-Jones described Word Metrology Day as an annual celebration of the Metre Convention on 20th May 1875 by representatives of seventeen nations. He said the convention set the framework for global collaboration in the science of measurement and its industrial, commercial and societal applications. He emphasized that the original aim of the Metre Convention – the World-wide uniformity of measurement remains as important as it was in 1875. The Deputy Minister observed that Standards Bureau as regulatory institution for measurement in Sierra Leone should be taken seriously by Government. He said he has heard the plea of the Executive Director of the Bureau for Government to support the Bureau in terms of logistics and address the poor conditions of service of the workers, noting that he would ensure that these issues are addressed. The Deputy Minister also reaffirmed Government’s commitment to supporting the Bureau in its decentralization drive and the rolling out of the metric system in the commerce and general trade sector.