mvula’s Midas touch steers NSI

By Theresia Tjihenuna
November 2012
Profile
“The greatness of a job lies not in the title and remuneration associated with it but rather in the value that one creates while serving in whatever position you find yourself”, says Dr Eino Mvula.

Dr Mvula, the General Manager: Regulatory and Consumer Protection at the Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) asserts science is his calling.

Since his childhood and well into his Mweshipandeka Senior Secondary years, Mvula’s passion for science saw him once refuse to be put in an arts and crafts class until the school management had to find a place for him.

“I always had an interest in science and mathematics and excelled in both better than any other subject,” he states.

Mvula’s proficiency in science was nurtured through years of shuttling between science laboratories and classrooms at the University of Namibia (Unam) where he graduated with a cum laude having majored in chemistry and mathematics in 1996.

Unam placed him on its staff development programme and then sponsored his studies for Bachelor of Science Honours and Master of Science (MSc) in chemistry at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

“After completing my MSc in 1999, I was granted a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for my doctoral research at the Max-Planck Institute of Radiation Chemistry, now Max-Planck Institute for Bioinorganic Chemistry, in Muelheim an der Ruhr, Germany,” he says, adding that it was part of an exchange programme between Unam and the institute.

In 2005, he enrolled at the University of South Africa (Unisa) for a Bachelor of Business Administration. He then went on to study at the University of Cape Town’s Graduate school of Business for a Masters in Business Administration, which he completed in 2009.

Today, he forms part of NSI’s senior management team where he heads the NSI’s Department of Regulatory and Consumer Protection. The Department has four Divisions - testing, inspection, metrology and quality assurance.

Mvula’s responsibilities include the development and maintenance of the regulatory and consumer protection function capability, to meet stakeholders’ needs by analysing their needs under changing conditions.

As the National Standards Body for Namibia, the NSI is mandated to promote standardisation and quality assurance in the industry, commerce and the public sector, improving product quality, industrial efficiency and productivity as well as promoting trade.

The fishing industry in particular, produces one of Namibia’s key exports. Mvula and his team of technical experts carry out chemical analyses and microbiological analyses in fish and fishery products.

The NSI’s Testing Laboratory delivers crucial testing services to the local fishing industry at the coastal part of the country, ensuring the safety of fish and fishery products, which are exported to, amongst others, the European Union (EU) market.

“I’m involved in activities regarding strategic planning as a whole by providing a strategic planning input and ensuring the implementation of the strategic plan,” he says.

He is also tasked with the responsibility of providing advice on all relevant regulatory and consumer protection (testing, Inspection and metrology).

Mvula has been part of the team that established the NSI since 2008.

“One of the primary tasks of the team was to develope NSI’s capability to provide testing, inspection and certification services to the fishing industry to facilitate market access of its products and to take over from the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS),” he explains.

The withdrawal of SABS from Namibia in 2008 left the fishing industry concerned about losing access to its EU market as it had weak faith in the NSI.

Despite skepticism and negativity, Mvula and his colleagues rose to the occasion by convincing the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources and the entire fishing industry that they would be able to provide the required and and reliable services to this important Industry.

But convincing a skeptical industry would not be an easy task; Mvula and his boss had to explore ways to win the industry’s trust, fast.

The exercise involved meeting individual stakeholders at their respective companies to explain the process on the way forward and the measures the NSI was already putting in place to ensure that no Namibian product would be banned from international markets as a result of negligence or incompetence on the part of the institution.

“I must say, we did manage to engage the stakeholders and build the trust and confidence that continues to guide our relationship,” Mvula marvels.

He adds, “As we speak, Namibia is about to be added onto the list of countries approved to export shellfish products to the EU market through the implementation of the Shellfish Sanitation Monitoring Programme.”

Another achievement Mvula is proud of is the establishment of the NSI Testing Laboratory’s capability to provide services to customers through implementation of management systems that meet requirements of international standards and ensure customer satisfaction.

“The NSI Testing Laboratory is one of only two accredited laboratories alongside South Africa’s Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Laboratory, that tests for marine bio-toxins in shellfish products on African Continent,” he says.

A fully functional metrology laboratory that provides calibration services to a wide range of customers has also been recently established. It provides services to the industry through verification of measuring equipment compliance with the provision of the Trade Metrology Act, 1973 (Act No 77 of1973).

“These developments have resulted in increased customer-base and revenue.,” Mvula explains.

Now that the NSI ship is sailing in the right direction, Mvula believes that the next natural phase would be that of consolidation and continuous improvement of our processes. PF