Dr. Eve Gadzikwa, ARSO President, addressing delegates at the 55th ARSO Council Meeting
The ARSO President, Dr. Eve Gadzikwa led the ARSO Council members in the 55th ARSO Council meeting with a focus of making ARSO a stronger organisation in 2017 and beyond.
With the anticipated ARSO Strategic Framework 2017 – 2022 addressing the Milestones and challenges in the last five years the President highlighted the anticipated role of ARSO and standardisation in the Africa’s transformation Agenda and economic development as envisaged by the Africa’s Agenda 2063 and its flagship project of the Continental Free Trade Area 2017.
The president speech highlighted Africa’s economic performance through the 2015, amid global headwinds and regional shocks with the growth expected to remain moderate at 3.7% in 2016, and 4.5% in 2017. This forecast hinges on the strength of the world economy and a gradual recovery in commodity prices ((AfDB et al. 2016).
In her speech, the President highlighted the expanding importance of ARSO, underlining the following opportunities:
- The adoption by the African Union, of an Action Plan for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa and the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which highlights the need for job creation and industrialization. Two themes were introduced largely at the request of African governments. This is with respect to Goal 8- “Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all”; and Goal 9 “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation (UN, (A/70/L.1-2015)”.
- The U.N’s Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) publishing of a major report (Economic Report on Africa 2016) on industrialization in Africa where it asserts that Structural transformation in Africa’s economies remains the highest priority, and industrialization is the top strategy for achieving it in practice.
- The African Development Bank Group strategy (2013–2022) for Africa’s Transformation that roots for Diversification (to more manufactures and services); Export competitiveness (to rising shares of world exports in relation to world GDP); Productivity (to higher cereal yields and higher value added per manufacturing worker); Technology (to rising shares of medium- and high- technology products in manufacturing and in exports); and Human wellbeing.
- The greater support of many African policy makers who are embracing standardisation as a factor in Africa’s industrialisation and economic growth, noting that top on the factors which hinder regional trade are the Technical Trade Barriers especially the non-tariff barriers (NTBs – Standards, Technical Regulations and Conformity Assessment) which make it difficult for African countries trade with each other.
- With different Regional Economic Communities (RECS – EAC, SADC, COMESA, EAC) African countries face the challenge of variation in certification, testing, inspection practices, and standards used by different countries on the basis of the WTO obligation and rights. The differences between the national standards and conformity assessment procedures make trade between African countries difficult, contentious, and expensive, hence low intra-African trade.
- UNECA (Economic Report of Africa 2015) highlights that “stringent standards and sanitary and phytosanitary measures, due to Africa’s lack of quality-assurance and easily accessible standard setting and monitoring bodies, increase costs for African producers, particularly in developed country markets. Given these bodies’ large fixed setting-up costs, the case for a coordinated regional action—including strengthening the African Organization for Standardization is self-evident.”
- Increased focus on Africa as manifested by the several high profile events taking place in the continent like the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Nairobi, Kenya from 15 to 18 December 2015; the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) negotiated between the EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP); The 26th annual World Economic Forum on Africa, held on 11th – 13th May 2016 in Kigali, Rwanda ; UNCTAD 14 in Nairobi, held on 17th –22nd July 2016; the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) form 27 to 28 August 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya; and the launching of the African passport (Pan African visa) by the 27th African Union Summit Africa Union heads of State and Government Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on 10th – 18th July 2016 to facilitate trade and movement of African people within the continent.
Under the ARSO and PAQI programmes, the President reiterated what this means for Africa, the strengthening and where needed the establishment of an internationally accepted Quality Infrastructure.
The president further recalled the responsibilities of the ARSO MEMBER States with regard to the ARSO 2016-2017 running theme ““Role of Standardisation in Facilitating Human Rights with particular focus on the Rights of Women”, and outlined the following:.
- Creation of awareness on human and peoples’ rights on the continent, in particular, women’s rights with respect to the AU and International protocols.
- Promoting gender equality polices in standardisation Organisations and give women employees equal opportunities in decision making
- Promoting women participation in standardisation activities, mirror committees and Technical Committees
- Promoting the development of standards with women Interests and priorities
- Promoting Gender Equality in opportunities available in the NSBs
- Promoting opportunities that build Women capacities
- Creating awareness among the NSBs Stakeholders on the AU protocols on Women Rights especially with regards to African Women’s Decade 2010-2020 and the AU Agenda 2063.
- Mainstreaming gender in the policy, budget and service delivery process
- Create a greater awareness on the role of standardisation as a tool for levelling the playing ground.
Dr. Gadzikwa futher called on the ARSO members attention to their responsbilities in Africa’s standards harmonisation and implementation; 2017 year of Quality celebrations; 4th Essay Competition and the 5th African Day of Standardisation; 2017 – 2022 ARSO Strategic Framework Review; Membership and resources mobilisation, highlighting the planned 2nd ARSO President Forum and all Africa Made in Africa Expo to be held in Zimbabwe in March 2017.