The 23rd ARSO General Assembly events comprising the 56th ARSO Council; ARSO Training on the focus of NSBs as Businesses; The ISO presentation of Climate Change Standards; The Celebrations of the 5th African Day of Standardisation; the 23rd ARSO General Assembly; the ARSO Workshops on Conformity Assessment for textile industry, and Cyber security standards (IEEE) and the Made in Africa Expo and Exhibitions by Burkina Faso Industries, and hosted by the Government of the Republic of Burkina Faso, through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Artisanal and ABNORM, AND addressed by Dr. Eve Gadzikwa, ARSO President, Ms. Ron Omar, Senior Policy Advisor, African Union, Trade and Industry Department, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, ARSO Secretary General.
The ARSO General Assembly events was held under theme “Celebrating the year 2017 as the Year of Quality Infrastructure in Africa” “Role of standardization for Better quality and better life within a continental free trade Area”
In his official remarks, the Minister highlighted that the continent had made significant progress in development, particularly in terms of economic growth, social development, democratization, human capital development, peace promotion and political stability, and highlighted the challenges the continent face despite the growth:
- Focus on trade in raw materials and influenced by instability in the prices of these commodities;
- Lack of job creation through the recorded developments to counter the unemployment and poverty problem
- The increasing de-industrialization in African countries and a decline in agricultural productivity, which has not achieved food self-sufficiency;
- Low Intra-Africa trade (10 and 12%) resulting into stagnated growth, job creation and the development of Africa;
- Poor quality Infrastructure.
The Minster highlighted that for many African Countries, the Development of Quality Infrastructure was still at its infant stage, noting that for Burkina Faso, there has been the adoption of the national quality policy of Burkina Faso in 2012, and revised in 2016 with the support of ECOWAS West Africa Quality System programme; and the creation ABNORM as an integrated quality infrastructure in accordance with the recommendations of the regional Economic Community of West Africa.
The Minster called for the Strengthening the capacity of African national and regional standardization institutes in the development and harmonisation national and regional standards; development and recognition at the international level of the competencies of African metrology and conformity assessment bodies; and Cooperations in suitable mechanism for the financing of standardization, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment activities on the African continent.
ARSO appreciates the fact that since 2013, there has been various ACP-EU-TBT Programme Opportunities available for the ACP-Countries in the promotion of Trade and reduction of Technical Barriers to Trade, including the ARSO-ACP-EU-TBT Programme Projects, the SADC-EU EPA TBT/SPS projects; COMESA programmes in Sudan and Ethiopia that is aimed at assisting SMES in the tanneries and textiles on the steps towards certification, with the following achievements as reported during the TBT Programme Knowledge Dissemination Workshop on TBT Good Practices in Nairobi, Kenya on January 17-19, 2017:. funding of 84 projects across three pillars of operations, namely, (a) support to QI institutions; (b) empowering economic operators; and (c) dissemination of results and experiences, with principal beneficiaries of PMU-funded projects being QI bodies (47) followed by SMEs/trade bodies (19) and with a geographic distribution of projects as 7 All-ACP; 7 continental African; 21 regional; and 49 national, and providing greater opportunities for capacity building, going forward for the African countries.
Ms. Ron Osman, the African Union Commission, Senior Policy Officer, called more focus on the African Integration Agenda and the role of Qulity Infrastructure.
In Her address, to the Assembly, under the topic “Industrialisation and increased Intra-Africa trade as stepping stones toward Africa’s sustainable development”, Ms Ron Osman, the African Union Commission, Senior Policy Officer, re-emphasised the need for better Quality Infrastructure in Afrca as the most sure way of socio-econmic development of the continent through effective trade ties within the regional trading blocks and at the global level.
The World Bank Africa’s Competitiveness Report 2015 indicates that African countries that are able to remove the main non-tariff barriers and make trade facilitation processes faster and more reliable, and cost less, will be more successful in entering Global Value Chains, enjoy the benefits of Trade and Integration. The report (Africa Competiveness report 2015) highlights that although tariffs are estimated to account for only 0–10 percent of total trade costs, and physical trade costs another 10–30 percent, the remaining 60–90 percent is comprised of non-tariff–related costs including inconsistent regulatory environment, including the various Technical Trade Barriers in terms of Standards, Metrology, Conformity Assessment Regimes).
ARSO Treasurer, Mr. Oumarou KY reiterates suppot to ARSO.
In his part the Director General of ABNORM, Mr. Oumarou KY reitereated the support of Burkina Faso to ARSO, as a founder member. For Burkina Faso, the founding Conference of ARSO in Accra, Ghana on 10th – 17th January 1977, Burkina Faso, then known as Haute (Upper)-Volta was represented by the “Conseiller des Affaires Economique, Ministre des Commerce et de l’Industrie”. The ratified Constitution deposited with the Secretariat of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in Addis Ababa, under the leadership of Dr. Adedeji Adebayo of Nigeria (the UNECA CEO), was duly signed and sealed by the then President, His Excellency, Colonel Saye ZERBO on 16th February 1982, exceptionally making Burkina Faso one, among the only nine African countries whose Presidents ratified the founding ARSO Constitution.
Through the Agency for Standardisation, metrology and quality (ABNORM), to date, Burkina Faso has continued to play a crucial role in ARSO as an active member in ARSO Programmes, including ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO) responsible for the implementation of the activities of the ARSO Conformity Assessment programme and African Standards Harmonisation through the Thirteen Technical Harmonisation Committees.
With High output in Cotton productivity and Gold mining, and with the determination to improve its quality infrastructure, Burkina Faso is on the right path towards the implementation of taking advantage of its demographic trends and spending under the National Plan for Economic and Social Development (PNDES) 2016-2020.
African Day of Standardisation celebrated as major Stakeholders emphasise on the need for strengthening the Africa’s Quality Infrastructure:
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 has undertaken to emphasise the need for effective Quality Infrastructure in Africa. Both the Lagos Plan and the Abuja Treaty form the basis for Africa-wide quality infrastructure to support African industrialization.
In 2004 at Kigali, Rwanda, the AU Ministers of Trade, Customs and Immigration under Resolution 79, agreed to, among others, to urge AU Member States to commit adequate resources to Standardisation, Conformity Assessment and related matters and promote the development of a quality culture in their respective Member Countries and apply the principles of harmonisation of standards as laid down in the WTO/TBT and SPS Agreements.
Further all the RECs standardisation activities, based on their respective constitutive ACTS, Protocols and Treaties, are directly aligned with the provisions and aspirations of Chapter XI Article 67 that aspires for effective Quality Infrastructure in Africa. The ARSO-RECs cooperation is based on the signed MoUs (EAC, 2008; COMESA, 2009; ECOWAS, 2008; SADCSTAN – 2015). In this regard, ARSO and RECs have endorsed a guideline for the implementation of the MoUs which was concluded at the ARSO-RECs consultative meeting held on 25th – 26th April in Nairobi, Kenya.
The role Quality Infrastructure is in the elimination of technical barriers to trade, Improvement of competitiveness of enterprises, strengthening of socio-economic coherence, strengthening the negotiating position in trade disputes, Safeguarding of interests from other regional economic blocks and Consolidating the regional technological autonomy, is widely reported.
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.
The need for a strong, sustainable and integrated approach to the continent’s quality infrastructure, encompassing metrology, standards, accreditation and quality assurance has also motivated ARSO (African Organisation for Standardisation ) together with AFRIMETS (The Intra-Africa Metrology System), AFRAC (African Accreditation Cooperation), AFSEC (African Electro-technical Standardization Commission), in collaboration with the African Union, to form the Pan African Quality Infrastructure PAQI, launched in 2013 by AUC Director of Trade and Industry, Mrs Treasure Thembisile Maphanga, to ensure that the economic integration of Africa fully utilises the benefits of Quality Infrastructure and address the challenges of Quality Infrastructure institutions. Going by the available studies (PAQI 2014) generally, the African continent is the least developed in terms of quality infrastructure with low investment in the mater. Only four countries, Egypt, Kenya, South Africa and Tunisia have have a well-developed Quality Infrastructure, meaning, long term policy reform and institution and capacity building programmes across the continent.
As pointed by Experts and the AU document on boosting intra-African trade and the establishment of a CFTA, to benefit from the CFTA, Africa must focus on improving the quality of regulation to remove the NTMs (TBTs) in goods, and to deliver competitive markets, while achieving essential public policy objectives; 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(AU 2012, Farahat, 2015).
The Presentations and discussions were done under four strategic sessions:
- Session 1: Regional integration – Role of standardisation within a Free Trade Area
- Session 2 – Made In Africa As a Pillar for African Economic Integration, Industrialisation and Transformation Agenda
- Session 3 – Made In Africa – National standard bodies in the eye of SMEs
- Session 4: Quality Policy (QP) in Africa- challenges and lessons learnt,
- INBAR’s work on bamboo and rattan Standards – Rene Kaam, INBAR Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)
- National Quality Policy/National Quality Infrastructure Strategy in Ethiopia
- Challenges and Lessons learnt – Endalew Mekonen, Director General , ESA
- Prodct Safety Control Systems and Poolicy in Korea – Focusing on Imported Products – Dr. Hyun Jin Koo
- Promotion and Consumption of commercially produced Foods for Infants and Young Children – Elhadji Issakha Diop, PhD, Regional Nutrition Specialist, Helen Keller International
- Regional and national unique product standards – key to accessing new market – Mauritius Case study – Mr. GUNNESS BEEJADHUR, MSB
- Challenges and Lessons Learnt on the Implementation of Namibia’s National Quality Policy – Lorna T. Shikongo-Kuvare, General Manager: Certification
- Quality Infrastructure and the CFTA – Dr Oswald Chinyamakobvu.
- Level of Integration in Africa – Dr. Batanai C Chikwene, Senior Technical Advisor (SPS & TBT) on the CFTA
- Improving Quality Infrastructure in Africa – Advancing Economic Competitiveness, Benard Bau, UNIDO
- Industrial Cooperation & Training – providing training on Maturity Model – Dr. Aishvarya Raj, Senior Director, QCI
- The role of CEN-CENELEC in promoting EU common market – Joël Pierre
- Unit Manager – International Cooperation, CEN-CENELEC
- Normes régionales et nationales de produits uniques, clé pour accéder au nouveau marché, Étude de cas du Sénégal – Par Barama SARR, DG Association Sénégalaise de Normalisation, (ASN).
With the theme, Celebrating the year 2017 as the Year of Quality Infrastructure in Africa” “Role of standardization for Better quality and better life within a continental free trade Area”, it clearly was demonstrated that Quality Infrastructure will play a greater role in Africa’s trasfromation Agenda with respect to increased productivity, competivess, value addition, Manufacturing and industrialization, as is the case in in Asia and Europe where, Quality Infrastructure and Industry was key to the explosive and continued growth.
Climate Change and standardisation issues
The General Assembly also witnessed the ISO Presentation and Cocktail on ISO TMB Climate Change Coordination Task Force on 27th June 2017, by Mr. Jose
Luis Hernandez, the international secretary of the ISO, Climate Change Coordination Task Force.
The Cocktail/Presentation event was held as platform for sharing with the ARSO Members on the challenges of climate change to the world and Africa in particular and how the NSBs and ARSO could use the standardisation to develop mitigation strategies to protect the continent.
The presentation resonated with the current principles of the ARSO African Ecolabelling Mechanism which aims to promote products that are deemed to have fewer impacts on the environment and to certify products are produced in an environmentally friendly way.
The WTO TBT Agreement allows for countries to take measures necessary to ensure “the protection of human, animal or plant life or health [and] of the environment” but advices that Ecolabels should be applied within the principles of Annex 3 of TBT Agreement (Code of Good Practice for the Preparation, Adoption and Application of Standards) that prohibits both technical regulations and standards from discriminating between domestic and foreign products that are alike (the national treatment principle) and between “like products” from different WTO members (the most favoured nation principle).
ARSO Training on Business approach to the role of NSB
After realising that the NSBs can take opportunity and generate their own income from the standardisation and conformity assessment services and that they don’t have sufficient knowledge on how to engage them in those activities aiming at raising funds, ARSO President Forum held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe resolved that the Heads of NSBs should be trained on entrepreneurship and learn from the ISO methodology.
Under the theme “Answer to the global quality challenge – A business approach to the role of National Standards Bodies” ARSO organised a Training Session to its members on 27th June 2017 during the 23rd ARSO General Assembly events.
The Training which was facilitated by PTB Consultant, Mr, Alex Inklaar, was based on the a publication by Dr. Clemens Sanetra, Rocío M. Marbán, PTB – “The answer to the global quality challenge- a national quality infrastructure, and a publication by Henk J de Vries – “Business approach to the role of NSBs”. The aim of the Training was to equip participants with skills to manage the NSBs as Business and on a sustainable basis, exploring different opportunities for income generations and for sharing the experiences.
The Training, which was core-sponsored by PTB-Germany was attended by 25 participants from: Botswana, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, DR Congo, Gabon, Guinea, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zanzibar and Zimbabwe.
Call for increased cooperation between ARSO and ISO at the ISO CEO Forum
The ISO Forum, held on the 30th June 2017, during the 23rd ARSO GA Events, provided a perfect for the Africa’s NSBs CEOs to discuss experiences and challenges by the ARSO members CEOs in their International standardisation engagements and the role of their governments and NSBs.
The 30 June 30th, 2017 CEO Forum, on the theme what can ISO do to better engage and assist its members in Africa, provided a unique platform for Chief Executives of the African NSBs (Angola/IANORQ/ Botswana/BOBs, Burundi/BNB, Cameroon/ANOR, Congo Brazzaville, Cote D’Ivoire/CORDINORM, DR. Congo/OCC, Eritrea, Ethiopia/ESA, Ghana/GSB, Guinea, Guinee Bissau, Kenya/KEBS, Mali, Namibia/NSI, Nigeria/SON, Rwanda/RSB, Sénégal/ASN, Sierra Leone/SBS, South Africa/SABS, South Sudan/SSBS, Sudan/SSMO, Swaziland/SWASA, Tanzania/TBS, Uganda/UNBS, Zambia/ZABS, Zanzibar/ZBS, Zimbabwe/SAZ), to get together to discuss issues related to the day-to-day management of their organizations; exchange views on matters of mutual interest, to consider possible solutions to the challenges they face, and to identify concrete actions for implementation in their organizations. The purpose of the CEO Forum was also to strengthen the dialogue at the regional level, and with ISO. The Forum combined presentations, information sharing and roundtable discussions.
- The discussions, as facilitated by Dr Daniele Gerundino, Director, ISO Academy, Dr. Eve Gadzikwa, ARSO President and Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary-General focused on the
- Regional cooperation with respect to the structure ISO’s regional engagement in Africa under the ISO 2016-2020 Action Plan for Africa and areas of collaboration from the perspective of ISO and ARSO members to improve participation in international standardization and structured support to the African continental integration and development.
- ISO’s technical assistance activities with regards to standardization in support of public policies; national standardization strategies; financial sustainability of NSBs; stakeholder engagement; good standardization practices; and managing national standards development projects and programmes; how to ensure maximum benefit from ISO’s technical assistance (including participation and use of ISO sponsorships)
The importance of African Manufacturing potential realised at the Ouaga Made in Africa Expo
Many experts argue that Africa has the potential to become the world’s low-cost manufacturing hub. A cheap workforce, allied with an abundance of raw materials and low-cost agricultural products, meaning many African countries are well placed to replace south-east Asia as the most attractive, and cost-effective, region in which to create goods. However Experts warn that without proper strategies to improve the manufacturing Capacity and the volume in Trade in Africa, Africa’s Integration and industrialisation and growth Agenda will remain but a dream as virtually all cases of high, rapid and sustained economic growth in modern economic development have been associated with industrialization, particularly growth in manufacturing production (UNCTAD – Policy Brief, No. 27, August 2013). Industry was key to the explosive and continued growth in Asia and Europe, and without concentration on or support of the manufacturing sector, African economies are not likely to replicate those convergence dynamics (Rodrik, 2014).
Manufacturing value chains in Africa are often depicted as the next logical place for foreign investment to flow, as the price of labour gets more expensive in China and the country is moving its focus away from exports to domestic consumption. But Africa only commands meagre 1.5% share of the world’s total manufacturing output with strong indication that the current trend is likely to continue through 2015 (UNIDO 2013). This is against 24.7% for Europe, 21.7% share for the Asia Pacific region, 17.2% for East Asia and North America’s 22.4% share, 5.8% Latin America.
In Africa, manufacturing, which is the driver of growth in Asia, employs less than 8 percent of the workforce and makes up only 10 percent of GDP on the continent (Rodrik, 2014). In comparison to the 8 percent growth in the services sector from 2000-2010, manufacturing saw only 2 percent growth (McMillan and Harttgen, 2014). In addition, the region’s manufacturing sector is dominated mostly by small and informal (and thus less productive) firms with weak technological capabilities and embedded in fragmented learning and innovation systems. The labour-intensive sectors (for example, textiles, apparel and leather products) play a rather limited role both in terms of domestic manufacturing production as well as exports. Mr. Alexis Akwagyiram, in an article, Made in Africa: Is manufacturing taking off on the continent? BBC Africa (2014) points out that several African countries have enjoyed economic growth in recent years but there are fears that a failure to develop manufacturing could prove to be costly. He points out that “Made in China” is a stamp that is ubiquitous and can be found on a wide range of objects – anything from T-shirts and shoes, to watches and televisions – worldwide. The same is true of labels showing that an object originated in Taiwan or Vietnam. But it is rare to find an object which has a mark that points to origins in African country – “Made in Nigeria” or “Made in Chad”, for example.
The African Union calls on the African institutions to give priority to structural transformation, an overarching objective of the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Agenda 2063 calls for the promotion of macro-economic policies that facilitate growth, employment creation, investments and industrialisation. The U.N.’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has published a major report (Economic Report on Africa 2016) on industrialization in Africa where it asserts that Structural transformation and integration in Africa’s economies remains the highest priority, and industrialization is the top strategy for achieving it in practice.
It is on this basis that ARSO has been promoting the African Manufactured goods through its programme on Made in Africa Expo, which regards African Entrepreneurs as the Engine of Economic development. For example on 1st – 4th March 2017, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, ARSO held its 2nd ARSO President Forum and Made in Africa Conference and Expo 2017 under the theme, “Made in Africa as a Pillar for African Economic Integration, Industrialisation and Transformation Agenda”. At the 23rd ARSO GA events Burkina Faso Industries held a Made in Africa Expo running concurrently with the ARSO Events from 26th – 30th June 2017. Under the 3rd Sessions on the Made in Africa – National standard bodies in the eye of SMEs, 3 Burkina Faso Companies shared their experience with the delegates on their production processes, standardisation and certification challenges and their expectations. The best 3 Made in Africa Expo Exhibitors were recognised at the Gala Dinner on 29th June 2017.
As the Winners of the 4th ARSO Standards Essay Competition recoginised
Under the theme: “Role of Standardisation in Facilitating Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women “based on : The Declaration of 2016 as Africa Year of Human Rights by the African Union” ARSO held its 2016-2017 Essay Competition among the African Youth in various Universities in Africa.
The adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol) in 2003 ushered in a new thinking in addressing gender inequality and the rights of women in Africa. To reaffirm their commitment to gender equality, in 2004, the Assembly of Heads of State adopted, the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), and this commitment was reinforced with the adoption of the first-ever African Union Gender Policy in 2009 and Assembly Declaration of 2010 – 2020 as an African Women’s Decade and the launching of the Fund for African Women. The Assembly also committed itself to continue to expand and to accelerate efforts to promote gender equality at all levels, and the determination to build on the progress that have been achieved in addressing issues of major concern to the women of Africa. It is for this reason that it was deemed necessary to declare this auspicious year (2016), the African Year of Human Rights with particular focus on the rights of women, to mark, commemorate and celebrate these significant milestones in Africa’s continental human rights progression.
This annual events attracted the participation of over 200 students from Cameroon, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The students were expected to articulate the gender issues in Africa, the status of women and how standardisation could be used as a tool to enhance the women’s rights.
Mr. Tapera, Dzidzo Jogwe of Zimbabwe had emerged the winner, followed by Harare, Zimbabwe, followed by Moffo Kamta Diane of Cameroon, and Ota Ama Chinoso of Nigeria. The 5th Essay Competition for the 2017-2018 will be under the Benefits of Quality Infrastructure in Africa.
ARSO Signs MoUs with INBAR
At the Assembly events, ARSO Signed MoUs with INBAR. INBAR was represented by Mr. Rene Kaam, the INBAR Technical Advisory Committee Coordinator.
INBAR’s mission is to promote the well-being of producers and users of bamboo and rattan within the context of a sustainable resource base and it is the world’s leading knowledge centre for bamboo and rattan development and a major force for South-South and North-South collaboration.
Bamboo and rattan industries contribute significantly to livelihood and economic development in many producing countries in the tropics and sub-tropics and support an international trade. Worldwide, over 2.5 billion people trade in or use bamboo (INBAR 1999). Globally, domestic trade and subsistence use of bamboo are estimated to be worth US$4.5 billion per year, and export of bamboo generates another US$2.7 billion (INBAR 1999). For example, in China alone, the domestic bamboo sector is now worth US$ 19.5 billion per year and provides employment to 7.75 million people. In 2012, the domestic market for bamboo and rattan products in major producing countries was estimated at US$ 34.2 billion, with this figure also being supplemented by US$ 2.5 billion of annual international trade in bamboo and rattan products with predictions for 2015 amount to USD 2.5 billion.
International trade, however, forms only a part of bamboo usage, with domestic use estimated to account for at least 80 per cent of the total. Bamboo is thus a major world commodity. Although there is little cultivation of bamboo and little or no international trade in bamboo from Africa, many bamboo products are used domestically and can be very significant in both household and local economies.
Despite their lack of diversity in Africa, bamboos play an important role in ecology and biodiversity conservation. Bamboos are of conservation significance in their own right and may also serve as indicators of high biodiversity in other groups (Chihongo et al. 2000; Kigomo 1988).
As per INBAR, 1 billion people around the world use bamboo in their daily lives in housing material, fencing and food, as well as in arts and craft, and other areas. Bamboo as many domestic and agricultural uses, ranging from musical instruments to construction of homes and of agricultural structures like irrigation system in Madagascar. . Key bamboo uses include small-scale construction, handicrafts, residential fencing, horticultural flower farming, water pipes, farm props for banana plantations, furniture, and other minor cottage industry products like basketry and toothpicks (Chihongo et al. 2000).
The MoU will help raise awareness among African countries on the role of bamboo and facilitate the development and harmonisation of bamboo and rattan standards for Africa as well as to enable African states to participate in International Organisation of Standardisation (ISO) through the ISO TC 296 – Bamboo and Rattan, ISO TC 165 – Timber Structures, and ISO TC89 – Wood Based Panels.
ARSO Signs MoUs with HKI
At the Assembly events, ARSO Signed MoU with the HKI. HKI was represented by Mrs. Mette Kjaer Kinoti, Vice President, Africa.
Founded in 1915, Helen Keller International is dedicated to saving and improving the sight and lives of the worlds vulnerable by combatting the causes and consequences of blindness, poor health and malnutrition.
The MoU aims to define the modalities of collaboration between “ARSO” and “HKI” for the implementation of joint activities related to regulatory and standardization issues, particularly those of a regional nature, in order to substantially improve the health and nutrition of the population of the African region.
The MoU focuses on strengthening cooperation on African region standardization matters related to food, nutrition, and health issues on Food Fortification; Food Products targeting infants and young children and other food, beverage, and nutrition products directly impacting the nutritional status of Women, Men and Children.
International Organisations pledge to continue working with ARSO under its 2017-2022 Strategic Plan.
It is to be highlighted that at the ARSO Founding Conference of 10th – 17th January 1977 at the Accra International Conference Centre, Accra, Ghana, the founding of ARSO was witnessed by representatives from the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), the International Electro-technical Commission (IEC), the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Arab Organization for Standardization and Metrology (ARSM); the International Organisation for Legal Metrology (OIML), and the Union of African Railways (UARr).
At the 23rd ARSO General Assembly, the following Organisations were represented and within the Strategic Goals of the ARSO Strategic Framework 2017-2022, they pledged to continue working with ARSO in supporting its programmes and activities:
CEN-CENELEC, AENOR, AFNOR, BSI, CEN-CENELEC, DNVGL-France, HKI, IEC, INBAR, Intertek, ISO, ITC, KAS/KATS/FITI, PTB-Germany, QCI, RNF, SMIIC, TSE, UNIDO, AFRAC, African Union, AFRIMETS, AFSEC, ECOWAS, UEMOA, UNECA.
The Assembly events was attended by Chief Guests – Hon. Sanou Stephane – Minister for Trade, Industry and Artisanal, Government of the Reoublic of Burkina Faso, Ms. Ron Omar – Senior Policy Advisor, African Union; Dr Daniele Gerundino – International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO); Hon. Abubakai Hussaini Moriki- Chairman, National Assembly House Committee on Industry; Hon. Garba Datti Muhammad- Member , National Assembly House Committee on Industry; Mr. Murtala Muhammad- Special Assistant to the Hon. Minister for Industry, Trade and Investment; Barr. Usman Ibrahim – Clerk, National Assembly House Committee on Industry; ARSO Goodwill Ambassador, Prof. Mrs. Ameenah Gurib-Fukim, Her Excellency the President of Mauritius (through a video Message);
representatives of ARSO members – Botswana/BOBs, Cameroon/ANOR, Congo Brazzaville, Cote D’Ivoire, DR. Congo/OCC, Ethiopia/ESA, Gabon/AGANOR, Ghana/GSB, Guinea, Guinee Bissau, Kenya/KEBS, Namibia/NSI, Nigeria/SON, Rwanda/RSB, Sénégal/ASN, Sierra Leone/SBS, South Africa/SABS, South Sudan/SSBS, Sudan/SSMO, Swaziland/SWASA, Tanzania/TBS, Uganda/UNBS, Zambia/ZABS, Zanzibar/ZBS and Zimbabwe/SAZ
As African Countries discuss possibilities of Joining ARSO
The 23rd General Assembly was attended also by representatives of Angola/IANORQ, Burundi/BBN, Eretria and Mali, who expressed enthusiasm at formalising the membership in ARSO in order to develop a cohesive Quality Infrastructure in preparedness for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
It is recalled that 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:
- i) All AU Member States that are currently not Members of ARSO should endeavour to attain membership by the year 2017;
- ii) ARSO and other Pan African Standards organisations to refer to the year 2017 as African year of Quality Infrastructure;
- iii) The AUC and ARSO should increase awareness and mobilise 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 Africa.
- The AUC and ARSO to develop a work plan on Quality Infrastructure to be submitted to the Senior Officials meeting;
Experts highlight the fact that the CFTA which is the Flagship project of the Agenda 2063 is poised to raise the share of African trade from about 10.2 to 22% by 2022 and to, among other things, 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 and share the benefits of an increasingly connected global marketplace. However, the downturn is a fact that, to benefit from the CFTA, Africa must focus on improving the quality of regulation to remove the NTMs (TBTs) in goods, and to deliver competitive markets, while achieving essential public policy objectives; 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 (AU 2012, Farahat, 2015). According to TRAQUE (2014), unlocking the full economic development and export (regionally and internationally) potential of developing countries requires access to a domestic enabling environment and the basic enabling environment for providing proof of compliance is the ‘quality infrastructure’.
The General Assembly highlighted in its recommendations:
- The need for Better Quality Infrastructure in Africa as a major tool for the reduction of Technical Barriers to Trade in Africa and for Africa’s Export diversification, value addition and competiveness.
- The need for Responsive policies that address the challenges of Quality Infrastructure in Africa and set strategies for addressing the challenges and called on African leaders, policy makers and stakeholders to facilitate the process.
- Increased cooperation among African Countries, Stakeholders and Policy Makers to strengthen the Quality Infrastructure in Africa.
- Greater mutual cooperation among the ARSO members in building their Quality Infrastructure and sharing the challenges, while calling on the support of the International Partners.
- The need for structured cooperation with ISO on the implementation of the ISO 2016-2020 Action Plan for the developing countries, especially, Africa.
Moving forward, beyond 2017, within the approved ARSO Strategic Framework 2017-2022 and using the discussions during the 5th African Day of Standardisation, the ISO CEO Forum on 20th June 2017 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and based on ISO Strategic Framework 2016-2020, the ISO Action Plan for developing countries 2016-2020 and the ISO Regional Engagement Strategy and focusing on Africa’s membership in international standardisation, ARSO, RECs, NSBs and ISO has the greatest opportunity to cooperate in fulfilling their mandates and the with the ARSO – Burkina Faso 2017 offering a platform for re-engagement and discussions.
Vote of Thanks
ARSO sincerely expresses gratitude to the Intertek and PTB for the financial support with regard to the activities of the 23rd General Assembly events.
ARSO also remains appreciative to the Government of the Republic of Burkina Faso for the successful hosting of the 23rd ARSO General Assembly events.