By Wezi Tjaronda WINDHOEK Namibia is getting closer to completing the process of complying with international standards and practices. Yesterday, the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched the National Accreditation Focal Point (NAFP), which will be responsible for all accreditation issues. Apart from the focal point, this year has also seen the ministry sign an agreement between the South Africa Bureau of Standards for three years, during which time the SABS will transfer technological know-how to Namibia. In 2007, the government will launch the Namibian Standards Institution, which will then complete the process of complying with international standards and practice. Accreditation is not only important for trade and technological development, but also for ensuring public confidence in the reliability of activities that have an effect on health, welfare, safety and the environment. The move comes 10 years after the ministry initiated a programme on the development of the National Quality Infrastructure in Namibia, which was designed as the ministry’s and business support mechanism through capacity-building in standardization, accreditation, certification, testing, metrology and other technical support. Minister Immanuel Ngatjizeko said in a speech read for him by his Permanent Secretary, Andrew Ndishishi, that apart from identifying competent bodies for the implementation of government policies and regulations, accreditation could also provide a competitive advantage and facilitate access to export in the global market. When launching the focal point, he said: “Thus accreditation serves as a common language for the demonstration of competence of the organization to carry out specific tasks which also strengthen a company’s reputation and enhance the professionalism of its personnel.” Ngatjizeko called on the NAFP to start devising a plan for full participation by both the public and private sectors in the local and regional accreditation activities and also building the accreditation infrastructure of the country. He said accreditation would also serve as a catalyst for the achievement of sustainable socio-economic development in the region, poverty reduction and deeper levels of regional integration. The country’s NAFP will be responsible for all accreditation functions in the country in close liaison with SADC cooperation in accreditation SADCA and the SADC Accreditation Service (SADCAS). Namibia’s focal point is Nickey Itula who, in a brief introduction, said he would lead the Namibian market to internationally recognized markets and also create a conducive accreditation environment. SADCA, as a regional accreditation structure of standardization, quality assurance, accreditation and metrology, was charged with defining a suitable accreditation infrastructure enabling organizations within SADC member states to access the services from internationally recognized national accreditation bodies or to form a regional accreditation service, SADCAS. A key to the successful working of SADCAS is the implementation by each SADC member state of a National Focal Point comprising technical specialists responsible for the day-to-day activity associated with accreditation.