African countries have been urged to chart the way forward for the National Quality Infrastructure, NQI for the small and medium enterprises, SMES and entrepreneurs to exhibit their products and appreciate the role of standards, and for creating awareness on the benefits of standards in the country.
This is contained in a communiqué issued by Africa Standards Organisation, ARSO President Forum held in Abuja under the theme “The role of Standards in promoting sustainable Agriculture and food security in Africa”.
To achieve this, participants called on all the government of the African countries to support the Forum with its attendant events as an opportunity for the National Standards Bodies, NSBs chief executives, CEOs to share experiences and the challenges.
The communiqué also urged African governments to avail resources to NSBs to facilitate the development of the NQI, including National Enquiry Points, NEP and support the NSBs participation in regional, continental and international standardisation ahead of the year 2017 declared as the Africa’s year of Quality Infrastructure by African Union, AU.
It encouraged them through the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and Commerce to participate and support the NSBs activities for the National celebrations of the African Day of Standardisation as a catalyst towards the fast-tracking of the Continental Free Trade Area, CFTA by 2017.
African governments, NSBs and stakeholders were also urged to support the initiative of the Made in Africa-Expo to create more opportunities for the African entrepreneurs including the opportunity for promoting and up-scaling their products.
The Forum charged AU and various governments in the continent to directly engage with countries which export counterfeit goods to Africa, and as well calls on the NSBs and the regulatory Authorities to increase their market surveillance activities to protect the local industries.
It urged the national governments, NSBs and stakeholders to support the initiative of the Made-in-Africa-Expo to create more opportunities for the African entrepreneurs including the opportunity for promoting and up-scaling their products.
Similarly, it called on NSBs to hold regular standardisation forums and trade Expos for the SMEs and Entrepreneurs in their countries to reach out for the SMEs and assist them in their standardisation challenges and certification process.
The communiqué urged ARSO to reach out to policy makers both at the national and continental level on, benefits of national, regional and continental quality infrastructure and the role ARSO, the challenges and the need for pooling together in ARSO by African Countries.
It encouraged effective cooperation among NSBs to share work programmes, experiences and challenges to ensure transparency in the standards development and implementation and availability of standards across Africa on unique products, and appealed to well-established NSBs to reach out to the lesser developed NSBs to assist in lessening the NQI gaps.
It called on ARSO to work together with the NSBs, policy makers and AU develop a harmonised general quality policy for Africa to guide the operations and the implementation of the national and regional quality infrastructure programmes.
The Forum also tasked ARSO and NSBs to work with the NSBs, relevant government ministries and the private sectors to mainstream the SMEs into formal economy through standardisation and training programmes taking into consideration the problems faced by SMEs in their efforts to be competitive through getting compliant with Regulatory requirements and the conformity assessment regimes.
It tasked the NSBs and ARSO to initiate actions and programs for the empowerment of standardisation experts, entrepreneurs, manufacturers, African youths and policy makers through the introduction of standardisation education programmes in national African education curriculum to promote the culture of quality and promotion of bottom-up approach to standardisation.
They were also asked to promote awareness creation on the WTO – TBT Agreements among African countries and its effects on trading performance on African countries.
The communiqué added that national governments, ARSO and NSBs to actively participate in the international and local WTO TBT Committee meetings to highlight the challenges Africa in the implementation of the Agreement and trade performance.
It particularly enjoined NSBs to work with various government ministries and stakeholders to create proactive cooperation and capacity building, training and awareness creation among the policy makers, private sectors, standardisation experts, industry and the general public on the importance of standardization and the entire NQI in African Integration and economic development and the implementation of such programmes as Quality Award for African Companies and Organisations.
It further called for increased effective participation of African countries in the harmonization of African standards and conformity assessment schemes and the alignment of the national and RECs standardization activities with the continental standardisation agenda and integration priorities.
The Forum charged the countries to forge collaborative partnerships among the National Standards Bodies, NSBs, policy makers, government officials, trade promotion organizations, pan African quality infrastructure bodies, AU and UNECA to facilitate the chances of Africa to be a major player within the global market through effective national, regional and continental quality infrastructure.
It also encouraged all African countries to join ARSO to facilitate the harmonization and implementation of African standards and conformity assessment procedures in preparations for the implementation of the common African market under the envisaged CFTA as from 2017.
Similarly, it called on the countries to arise for standards for the achievement of the 2017 CFTA and the Africa Union Vision 2063.
The Forum was one of the resolutions made at the 20th General Assembly of ARSO in Kigali-Rwanda in June 2014, where delegates endorsed the need for the Director-General/Chief Executive of Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Joseph Ikemefuna Odumodu as the ARSO President to convene a forum for CEOs of all NSBs in Africa for engagement on standardisation programmes and the better understanding of the role of NSBs in the continental integration agenda.
It refers to UNECA’s considerations of the responsibilities of the African countries in establishing the CFTA, viz: “The CFTA members will need to appreciate and recognize the importance of standards, metrology, conformity assessment and accreditation…. CFTA members will need to harmonize their practices in this area to achieve mutual product recognition…. Cooperation with national, regional and international standards bodies will need to be promoted. Members will thus need to develop and adopt a policy framework consistent with the provisions of the relevant WTO agreement”.
The Forum had reognised the call by the AU during the 9th Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Trade in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 4thto 5thDecember, 2014, that all AU member states that are currently not members of ARSO should endeavour to attain membership by the year 2017; and that ARSO and other Pan African standards organisations to refer to the year 2017 as African Year of Quality Infrastructure;
That the AUC and ARSO should increase awareness and mobilize all stakeholders on the role of quality infrastructure; the AUC and quality infrastructure institutions should assess the status of quality infrastructure in Africa; and develop a strategic plan on quality infrastructure in the continent, and the AUC and ARSO to develop a work plan on quality infrastructure to be submitted to the senior officials meeting.
Participants from about 22 countries noticed the commitment of Africa’s (ARSO) Development Partners, EU (ACP-EU-TBT Programme), UNIDO, Intertek) to continue supporting the development of NQI in Africa.
They also appreciated the role of ARSO as the apex stardardisation body formed by the African Union Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa as well as the commitment of the African NSBs to fully contribute to attainment of the CFTA in line with the NSBs role in the achievement of the CFTA.
Noting the success of the Forum, they commended the federal government of Nigeria, the inter-ministerial committee and the SON for the organisation, hosting and availing of the resources for the continental event.
The three-day event was officially opened by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Ambassador Abdulkadir Musa on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari with the support of ARSO President Dr. Joseph Odumodu and the Secretary General, Dr. Hermogene Ngsengimana.

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