Standardisation and economic growth

BY: Dr Kofi Amponsah-Bediako
Library photo
Library photo

Standardisation is essential for socio-economic development in every nation but its importance is not fully acknowledged and appreciated by the citizenry, so there is the need to elaborate in clear terms how the elements of quality infrastructure can help us derive maximum benefits from it.

A vivid demonstration of the tangible benefits that standards bring to organisations and institutions is important because highlighting how it creates value for organisations that apply them can help us to always appreciate its value.

Standardisation helps to attain certain aims. They include ensuring that goods produced are fit for purpose, guarding against factors that adversely affect the health and safety of consumers and the environment; and enhancing better utilisation of resources, technology transfer and removal of trade barriers, among others.

Standardisation contributes to certain benefits for consumers, businesses, governments and society at large. For consumers, standards provide assurance that the quality, safety and reliability of products are guaranteed.

In the case of business organisations, standards enable them to increasingly compete in many markets around the world.

With regard to governments, standards provide the technological and scientific bases that underpin health, safety and environmental legislations. Similarly, for individuals, standards can contribute to quality of life in general.

For the entire planet, standards on air, water, soil quality and emission of gases and radiation can contribute to efforts to preserve the environment.

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Nations such as the US, UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, Japan and many others are greatly respected because of standards which have led to good health, public safety, satisfactory quality of products and value for money from the perspective of consumers.

Companies the world over, whether big or small, derive numerous benefits which can be quantified into millions or billions of United States dollars.

The benefits come in various forms such as streamlining internal operations, creating or entering new markets as well as innovating and scaling up operations, among others.

Some companies have been able to achieve a gross income contribution of up to 33 per cent or more of their annual revenue which has helped to position them as leaders not only in their fields of operation but also in their respective countries.

A few examples will help to illustrate the importance of standardisation in various parts of the world, including our beloved country, Ghana.

NTUC FairPrice is the largest supermarket chain in Singapore which has been able to use standards to drive its process improvement, establishing over 240 retail outlets.

Again, PTT Chemicals is a leading petrol chemical company in Thailand, operating broadly across the chemical sector. it has been able to raise more than $ 3.1 billion as at five years ago.

One other company that has been able to use standards to play a competitive advantage for itself is Grefor, a Columbian multinational company active in the plastic and synthetic fibres of the petrol chemical industry.

The company’s employees number 850 making a profit within a range of $14.3 million.

Here in Ghana, Tropical Cable and Conductor Limited is able to manufacture world-class quality conductors and cables for West Africa’s energy sector. Its operations have seen great improvement as a result of its collaboration with Ghana Standards Authority.

At the moment, they employ about 200 people in Ghana. Latex Foam has also been able to stand the test of time in its area of operation. It is a leading manufacturer of quality foam products in Ghana and West Africa, the result of rigid application of standards.

The issue of Ghana Beyond Aid can be brought into fruition only when producers in Ghana are able to use standardisation to promote exports.

This means that without support for the GSA, the laws and regulations on public safety will be compromised and the consequences will be weak quality infrastructure, leading to poor health and unsafe conditions within the country.

The writer is the Director of Corporate Communications, Ghana Standards Authority.