African Organisation for Standardisation

ARSO Goodwill Ambassador meets ARSO Council Members

ARSO Delegates meet the ARSO Goodwill Ambassador, Her Excellency, Prof. Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, GCSK, CSK, Phd, President the Republic of Mauritius

An ARSO Delegation led by the ARSO President Dr. Eve Gadzikwa, ARSO Treasurer Mr. Oumarou KY (Burkina Faso) and the Secretary General, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana and comprising representatives of Cameroon/ANOR, dr Congo/OCC, South Africa/SABS, paid a courtesy call to Her Excellency, Prof.,  Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, GCSK, CSK, Phd, President the Republic of Mauritius and who is also the ARSO Goodwill Ambassador on13th April 2017 at the State House in Mauritius to discuss the role Of Quality Infrastructure (Qi) in Trade, Industrialisation and Integration and the Need for Effective Policy for QI in Africa.

It is recalled that ranging from the Lagos Plan of Action 1980, Chapter VII, Trade and finance, Trade, Intra- African trade expansion, paragraph 250 (k and I), and Abuja Treaty of 1991 establishing the African Economic Community, under Chapter XI on Standardisation and Measurement Systems, Article 67 Chapter XI, to the recent CAMot Decisions (AU/TI/TD/CAMoT-9/RPT.MIN/FINAL) of 2014, the African Union, formerly OAU,  has undertaken to emphasise the need for effective Quality Infrastructure in Africa. At the 9th Ordinary Session of the AU Conference of Ministers of Trade (CAMoT) convened at Ministerial level at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from 4 to 5 December, 2014, the African Union called on ARSO and other Pan African Standards organisations to refer to the year 2017 as African year of Quality Infrastructure and the AUC and ARSO should increase awareness and mobilise all stakeholders on the role of Quality Infrastructure.

Her Excellency the President (left) discusses with the ARSO President, Dr. Eve Gadzikwa.

The need for effective Quality Infrastructure in Africa is informed by the current momentum being witnessed to achieve the Africa’s regional integration and industrialisation Agenda as is reinforced by the Constitutive Act of the African Union (AU) of 2001, the COMESA- EAC –SADC Tripartite Initiative, the 2012 decision by AU Assembly of Heads of State to fast-track the establishment of a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) by 2017 and boosting intra-African trade. Experts highlight the fact that the CFTA which is the Flagship project of the Agenda 2063 is poised to contribute significantly to increased competitiveness of Africa’s industrial products through harnessing the economies of scale of a large continental market; increased rate of diversification and transformation of Africa’s economy and the continent’s ability to supply its import needs from its own resources and better integration of the continent into the global economy so as to participate in and share the benefits of an increasingly connected global marketplace. CFTA could raise the share of African trade from about 10.2 per cent to 15.5 per cent from 2010-2022 and with enhanced trade facilitation measures the gains would double to reach 21.9 per cent (Mevel, Simon and Karingi, Stephen, 2012).  According to UNCTAD Secretary General, Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi (2016), the CFTA has substantial room to increase trade growth dramatically, and to pave the way for the industrialization and economic transformation necessary for African countries to achieve the ambitious targets of the global Agenda 2030 and Africa’s own Agenda 2063.

Her Excellency the President receives the ARSO Secretary General, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana.

However experts have indicated that to benefit from the CFTA, Africa must focus on reducing technical barriers to Trade as major inconsistencies among countries’ and Regions’ (RECs) Standards, technical regulations and Conformity assessment regimes, as a major obstacle for trade, remain, and this can only be underpinned by an effective and better Quality Infrastructure.  The Experts (UNCTAD/ALDC/AFRICA/2011, 2015,Jensen, Has Grinsted and Sandrey, Ron, 2015) point out that the increase in trade from the removal of tariffs would be felt in the manufacturing sector, as intra-African trade has a relatively higher industrial content than trade of African countries with the rest of the world and that a further boost to intra-African trade would arise from the removal of non-tariff barriers (TBTs) and this presents formidable political, economic, legal and functional challenges for the CFTA.

In her Keynote Address to Tralac Annual Conference, 17 April 2015, Ms. Treasure Thembisile Maphanga, Director of Trade and Industry, African Union Commission conquered that once fully implemented, the CFTA would offer African countries considerable benefits and gains would be even higher if trade liberalisation is complemented by trade facilitation measures, elimination or reduction of non-tariff barriers, strengthening of regulatory frameworks and improved infrastructure, noting that, Africa’s integration is not a matter of choice. It is rather imperative.  An efficient QI architecture will support and strengthen Africa’s ability to establish and continually improve the quality of goods and services; Removal of technical barriers to trade; Consolidating the regional technological autonomy; Strengthening the negotiating position in trade disputes; Strengthening of socio-economic coherence; increased competitiveness and thus facilitating African firms to effectively trade nationally, regionally and internationally and contributing directly to economic growth.

Eliminating tariffs and non-tariff Measures (NTMs) on trade between African countries, therefore, remains a major goal of CFTA and CFTA should ensure the removal of non-tariff barriers, facilitate convergence on regulatory measures, and enhance trade facilitation. NTMs, especially the Technical Barriers to Trade (TBTs – Standards, technical regulations and Conformity assessment regimes) are still prevalent across Africa´s regional groupings, despite positive efforts made in reporting and monitoring mechanisms. The elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers called for by the CFTA initiative offers African countries a great long-term opportunity and greater challenge to improve industrial capacity to provide the goods for which regional trade typically increases demand.  On NTMs (TBTs), therefore, African countries under CFTA, would be confronted with the main challenge of the need to improve the quality of regulation to remove the NTMs (TBTs) in goods, and to deliver competitive markets, while achieving essential public policy objectives relating to issues such as health and safety, and protection of agriculture from pests and disease (Farahat, 2015).

 

The need for such tariff and non-tariff dismantling on a continental scale would build on the progress in the TFTA negotiations and other RECs, and as encouraged by UNCTAD (2015) would require addressing the WTO TBT/SPS Agreement. Harmonisation and/or mutual recognition of SPS and TBTs and efforts at harmonisation and equivalence of pan-African standards, though challenging would go a long way to address the cost of NTMs (UNCTAD 2015). Long term policy reform and institution and capacity building programmes across the continent will be needed. It is on this basis that the repositioning of ARSO in the process of the negotiations and implementation of the CFTA and the improvement of Quality Infrastructure are important. This calls for (PAQI 2016) :

  • A robust legislative and regulatory framework that will set up a system for technical regulations to be supported by voluntary standards;
  • A strong voluntary standardization system in support of the implementation of the CFTA;
  • A conformity assessment and market surveillance system strengthened at continental level

It was recognised that most African countries do not have a Quality Policy and ARSO is promoting the general quality policy developed as a guidance for NSBs. There is a need to develop a tool to determine the level of NQI needed for different economies in the continent depending on their respective needs. .The importance of education about quality and standardization at all levels of our economies was also highlighted. The need to develop conformity assessment competencies to give confidence to other African countries to use the conformity assessment services provided by African NSBs was reiterated. The need to have mechanisms to recognise each other’s (Africa countries) marks of quality, to facilitate trade in the continent was further stressed. The delegates re-emphasized that the ‘Made in Africa’ is one platform that should be used for recognition of quality marks in the continent. The ARSO President in her welcoming remarks emphasised the importance of ARSO and NSB’s contribution to the CFTA and the need to realise that Africa is a player in global standardization to enable intra-Africa and international trade and therefore the need to focus on what is important to the continent. The ARSO Secretary-General highlighted ARSO’s expressed gratitude for Her Excellency the president of the Republic of Mauritius for encouraging with ARSO delegates on the issues of the ‘2017 as the Year of Quality Infrastructure’ to give effect to Her Excellency’s role as ARSO Goodwill Ambassador.

Earlier, on 12th April 2017, the ARSO delegates paid a visit to the Mauritius Standards Bureau, meeting, where they were received by the Director General (Ag.) Rashida Nanhuck (Mrs.).

 

Her Excellency, Prof. (Mrs) Ameenah Gurib-Fakim and President of the Republic of Mauritius (right),then an Expert and ACP-EU-TBT-Programme Consultant, join other Experts at the THC 13 standardisation Harmonisation meeting in Nairobi, Kenya on 2nd – 5th December 2015.

Her Excellency delivering a key note address (video) to the ARSO members, Stakeholders and Donor Community at the 22nd ARSO General Assembly meeting Highlighting the various challenges, policy issues and the way forward for Africa in Standardisation and QI. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qopbpxIriWk.

Her Excellency in a discussion ACP-EU-TBT-Programme Consultant, join other Experts join the ARSO Officials for discussions during the 20th ARSO General Assembly events in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2014.

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