Dec 21 , 2019

Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), the state-owned military-industrial conglomerate, lost one more department that has been working on quality assurance and certification.

Metals & Engineering Corporation (MetEC), the state-owned military-industrial conglomerate, lost one more department that has been working on quality assurance and certification.

Last month, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) approved a request that moved the Quality Engineering Centre of MetEC to the Technology & Innovation Institute. Established under MetEC in 2009 and started service three years later, the Centre has been calibrating the quality of the product made by the Corporation.

The letter from the Office of the Prime Minister has incorporated the Centre into the newly established Institute, which operates under the Ministry of Innovation & Technology.

TheCentre has laboratory facilities with pressure, electric, metal and liquid machines that are used to measure quality.

Operating with 72 employees, the Centre has been involved in confirming the quality of telescopes and military radios. It also got involved in quality inspection for the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) over the past several years.

The Centre has four institutes operating under it, namely the Calibration & Testing Laboratory Institute, the Project Quality Standard & Certification Institute, the Precision Equipment Maintenance & Manufacturing Institute and an institute that provides training and technical support.

It was only providing service to the products of the Corporation, not industry operators, a shortfall that the new restructuring hopes to ameliorate.

Moving the Centre to the Institute was recommended by a committee that was formed from MetEC and the Institute eight months ago. The 10-member committee had conducted an assessment and forwarded the recommendation to the Office of the Prime Minister.

The Centre was not performing as effective as it was expected, according to Ahmed Hamza (Brig. Gen), director-general of MetEC.

Sandokan Debebe, director-general at the Technology Innovation Institute that was established last year, also says that the Centre did not go with MetEC’s mission.

"[MetEC] was in charge of producing industrial products," said Sandokan, "while giving standards is normally a mandate of a third party."

The duties of the Centre overlap with the department at the Institute, and that is why it was moved there, according to Sandokan.

The Corporation, which was established with the initiative of the late Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, was designed to serve as a major tool for industrialisation and transformation of the country to middle-income status. However, it has been criticised for mismanaging public money and property.

Last year, four of the nine industries operating under MetEC were moved to the Ministry of Defence by a decision of the Prime Minister. Homicho Ammunition Engineering Complex, Gafat Armament Engineering Complex, Dejen Aviation Engineering Industry and Special Armament Industries were the four that were transferred.

After taking over the Centre, the Institute will give training to its employees in collaboration with the Addis Abeba Institute of Technology on how to use and operate the machines and laboratory equipment, according to Sandokan.

"Even after it is transferred to the Institute, MetEC will continue using the Centre," he said. "It is a good thing to get quality certification from a third party."

The recently restructured Centre will be operational soon after taking over the property from MetEC, according to Sandokan.

Currently, MetEC is working to finalise the process.

The Technology & Innovation Institute was founded last year and has the function of providing information to support scientific and technological activities in the country.

Eshete Berhanu (PhD), associate professor at Addis Abeba University's School of Mechanical & Industrial Engineering, seconds the decision of moving the Centre to the Institute.

The move will increase the Centre’s independence, autonomy and visibility, according to Eshete, who says that there could be a possible overlapping mandate with the Ethiopian Standard Agency unless they closely work together.

‘‘Despite the delay, if they come to work together sooner, it will benefit the industrial sector in the country,’’ said Eshete.

Eshete also recommends the Centre focus on new technological tasks that have not been done before.

PUBLISHED ON Dec 21,2019 [ VOL 20 , NO 1025]

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