The Kenya Accreditation Services Act of 2019 and its Implications
On the 14th of August 2019, His Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya, signed into law The Accreditation Services Act of 2019. The Act now properly constitutes the Kenya Accreditation Service (KENAS) as the sole national accreditation body mandated to offer accreditation services in Kenya, and repeals the Legal Notice No.55 of 2009 under which KENAS has been operating.
The presidential assent of the Act is a very important milestone for KENAS that crowns its 10th Anniversary and recent international recognitions by the ILAC, IAF and AFRAC. The Accreditation Services Act commences from 2nd September, 2019.
Speaking during one of the stakeholder meetings, the KENAS CEO Martin Chesire pointed out that accreditation evolves with the needs of the country and the market. The newly assented Act has come as a result of changes in expectations in terms of independence of accreditation bodies that enable operations at the same level as other peers worldwide. One of the requirements is that an accreditation body should be an independent legal statute and not just by an order or by mercy of the president as was the case when KENAS was under the Legal Notice of 2009.
The Accreditation Services Act of 2019, therefore, gives KENAS the flexibility to enhance its already existing framework to a more internationally accepted accreditation system. This is aimed at strengthening international recognition of Kenyan products and services. The signing of the Accreditation Service Act of 2019 therefore anchors KENAS fully into law.
One of the most important implications of the Act is that the Board has full authority to make rules and guidelines for making accreditation decisions. This means that KENAS, through its Board, is able to grant, renew, retain, and extend the scope of accreditation for clients as compared to previously where the responsibility lay to an independent Accreditation Committee. This flexibility gives the accreditation process a shorter timeframe due to quick decision-making procedures.
Principally, the Accreditation Service Act of 2019 allows KENAS to promote the accreditation services it offers to businesses and the general public. Kenyans need to be aware of the benefits of seeking services from accredited laboratories, certification bodies and inspection bodies. Customers and markets in Kenya want reassurance that materials, goods and services purchased or produced meet their expectations by complying with international and market standards. The risk factor is reduced when a customer is informed of the inspection measures, testing measures or certification measures that are applied to particular standards.
Likewise, recognized competence reduces risks of getting defective goods and services. Through the Act, KENAS is now empowered to establish and nurture relations with regional and international organizations in the field of accreditation. Moreover, KENAS will now be able to participate in the formulation and monitoring of national, regional and international accreditation guidelines and standards.