According to ISO/IEC Guide 2:1996, definition 3.2, a standard is defined as “a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context”.
In Kenya there are three different categories of standards:
- International standards – a standard adopted by an international standardization organization
- National standards – a standard adopted by a national standardization body and made available to the public.
- Company standards – a standard developed by a public or private organization for enforcement in a specified market segment, socio-economic sector or for regulation as well as supplies from its service providers.
- The Government ICT standards are composed of the above and are intended to foster coherence in application of information communication technology within the public service, ensure quality of products and services acquired by the government and enforce a unified approach to the ICT investments in the Public Service.
PURPOSE OF ICT STANDARDS
In the realm of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), Standards have special significance for directing and guiding acquisition, development and operation of technologies especially due to the multiplicity of products and services as well the attendant large number of manufacturers of these products. In this regard, Standards are critical in that:
- They address critical and important industry needs for interconnection and interoperability.
- This is particularly important for open markets, such as the ICT products and services markets, where users, who are increasingly mobile, can ‘mix and match’ equipment and services, and where suppliers can benefit from economies of scale.
- They ensure safety, reliability and environmental care.
- They are frequently referenced by regulators and legislators for safety and protection of user and business interests, and
Supporting government policies.
DEVELOPMENT OF ICT STANDARDS
The ICT Standards Development Process is undertaken in a way that maintains focus on the purpose of the specific standard. The process is grounded on adoption of best practices from globally recognized organizations.
The process has six key stages and process flow as illustrated in the diagram below. Each stage provide an opportunity and possibility of feedback into the drafting process thus, provides enormous benefits for the quality of the final document and helps to maintain ‘world class’ status of standard.
QUALITY ASSURANCE AND COMPLIANCE
Since Standards are largely voluntary, the quality assurance and compliance involves:
- Dissemination, publicity and sensitization of the standard to the relevant stakeholder community;
- Undertaking assessment and inspection for conformity to the standard;
- Preparation of a report on status of conformity of the agency with recommendations on necessary interventions;
- Re-assessment of agencies
- Recommendation for conformity Certification by the standards board.
- Accreditation of ICT suppliers and vendors