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Kenyan firm makes inroads in Somalia as peace opens business window

Monday, December 03, 2012

Workers in Mogadishu’s seaport unload supplies from a ship in October. A Kenyan firm has been offering certification services as Somalia recovers from effects of war. AFP

Improved security in Somalia has opened business frontier for Kenyan companies with a standardisation firm setting base in Mogadishu.

Polucon Services Limited managing director Dominic Mureithi said he was working with the Somali government to set up the first laboratory in the country.

“There is great potential there especially with standardisation and testing services and since we entered into the country a couple of months ago we have been doing fumigation for various organisations. We intend to open our first lab by mid next year,” he said.

Mr Mureithi, who spoke at the weekend when his company was awarded the ISO 17025 accreditation by the Kenya Accreditation Service (KENAS), said his firm – which also operates in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Tanzania – would work with various organisations to ensure that products imported from Somalia meet high standards.

Since the capture of Kismayu by Kenya Defence Forces, security in Somalia has improved after years of civil war that lasted over two decades, opening up opportunities for Kenyan companies.

Polucon Services has invested more than Sh50 million on foods, agricultural, biological, water and environmental labs and would use it equipment to analyse samples from Somalia even before opening a lab there, Mr Mureithi said.

He, however, noted that the biggest challenge facing accreditation firms was failure by some laboratories to take seriously the accreditation which aims to provide credible services to enable Kenyans consume quality and standard products.

“The market is today awash with people undermining accredited companies which has seen a lot of substandard goods leak into the market hence risking the lives of many Kenyans,” he said.

So as to encourage students studying at local universities, the company had initiated a programme that would enable them take up internship under the supervision of experienced chemists, the MD added.

Marion Mutugi, a director at KENAS, urged organisations dealing with foods, imports and exports to seek the services of accredited firms to ensure that Kenyans were not put at risk of contracting diseases.

“There is a rise in cases of cancer infection, a trend which is worrying.

“The cases might be as a result of the shoddy work that is being done by people who purport to carry out tests on foods and which are inaccurate, resulting to consumption of contaminated products,” Prof Mutugi said, adding that Polucon Services was the first local firm to be awarded the ISO 17025 in the country by the new agency, and called on other firms to seek accreditation from KENAS.

A director in the Industrialisation ministry Erastus Kimuri, however, noted that the challenge they were facing was due to the fact that seeking accreditation is not mandatory, and is left to individual firms to pursue the process on a voluntary basis.

“Most of the companies seek accreditation from outside the country and since we now have a new agency to facilitate accreditation procedures besides the one done by Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS)” he said.


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