ARSO Pharmaceutical Standards Harmonisation Programme & the 14th October 2020 – ARSO Webinar on COVID-19 and Post COVID-19 Africa: Tapping the Positive Lessons

The ARSO Webinar for October 14th 2020 is focused on the COVID-19 and Post-COVID-19 Africa, based on positive lessons learnt, with a call for increased manufacturing and industrialisation and increased trade among African countries within the prism of the AU Agenda 2063 and its Flagship project the Africa Continental Fee Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. ARSO, with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), under a new Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) initiative called the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices in Africa, is focused on the harmonisation of standards for Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products for increased trade and availability in Africa.

The COVID-19 pandemic which brought the world to a halt,  is considered as the most crucial global health calamity of the century and the greatest challenge that the humankind has faced since the 2nd World War, with the UN’s Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to the COVID 19 Crisis warning that “The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis as it is affecting societies and economies at their core. The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have indicated COVID-19 pandemic as the largest threat to global economy. Indeed, never in the living memory, in recent times, has humanity faced such a challenge in medical, social and economic spheres of life that threatens lives and livelihoods on the same scale. In its April 2020 report, the African Union has reported that “Indeed, the high dependency of African economies vis-à-vis foreign economies predicts a negative economic spinoff for the continent, evaluated at an average loss of 1.5 points on economic growth for 2020 and it is unlikely that the 3.4 percent (AfDB 2020) economic growth rate for the continent, forecast last year, will be achieved because of the COVID 19 crisis”. (AUC, 2020, https://africatimes.com/2020/04/06/new-au-report-zeroes-in-on-covid-19-economic-impacts/). The decline is due to the effects on the main economic sector of tourism, air travel, Exports (commodity and the associated tumble in commodity prices), with the decline in both exports and imports projected at 35%from the level reached in 2019 (AfDB 2020).

With this in mind, and on a positive note, due to the endemic reliance on imports and the breakdowns in supply chains associated with lockdown measures, for the African continent, COVID‑19 has strengthened the case for developing intra-African regional value chains and unlocking the continent’s business potential, while focusing on the African SMEs and Africa’s Industrialisation and Manufacturing. Like the food imports, COVID 19 has also magnified Africa’s reliance on imported pharmaceuticals (both final and intermediate products) and amplified the urgency to build competitive, resilient and robust value chains in this sector, including mainstreaming the African Traditional Medicine in the National Healthcare systems and pharmaceutical policies. Karisha Banga, et al. 2020, highlights that in 2018, 82.2% and 95.9% of Africa’s imports of food items, and medicinal and pharmaceutical products, respectively, originated from outside the continent. The Eminent Persons, led by the late H.E. Kofi Anan, former UN Secretary General, on their 2014 African Economic report, highlighted that Africa spends USD 35B in food imports and projected it to be USD 100 by 2030. There has already been a positive shift from global, to, towards more regional and local supply chains, with local Manufacturers and SMEs taking the lead to manufacture the required PPEs that comply with the recommended product standards. But the long-term economic benefits, according to UNCTAD, 2018c, will arise from unleashing the potential of regional value chains in the key sector, including Agro-processing, textile and leather and the pharmaceuticals (African Traditional Medicine), to foster manufacturing, trade, industrialisation and sustainable development, and when, according to UNECA (2020, “facilitating cross-border trade through a coordinated African response to COVID-19,) the African Governments adopt and harmonize trade policies (including standardisation (TBTs) to focus on Export oriented manufacturing of Made in Africa Products and boost intra-Africa trade (trade flows) among countries, with effective support from the African Quality Infrastructures (NSBs, PAQI (ARSO)).

It is in this regard that, ARSO has partnered with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to launch a new Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) initiative called the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices in Africa, aimed at promoting the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices imported or produced on the continent. The initiative, to be implemented in a phased manner over three years, has begun with the harmonisation of standards for Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products (ARSO/TC 80), and Medical devices and equipment (ARSO/TC 78). The second phase will analyse and assess existing international, regional, and national standards for their suitability in meeting the unique challenges faced by African healthcare industries before achieving the 3rd phase, which is the harmonization of the related African Standards and their adoption on the continent.

Commenting on the initiative, ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol highlighted that “From a trade development standpoint, harmonizing the standards of pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Africa is a crucial first step in facilitating local production and trade within the sector and those standards will provide a necessary baseline from which to regulate the sector more effectively, raising the quality of locally produced life-saving drugs and related products”. Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Afreximbank’ s Managing Director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative praised the initiative, noting that“At a time when the demand for quality medicines and medical devices is increasing, Africa needs to reinforce regional value chains to scale-up the supply of quality medical products and build up the continent’s resilience against pandemics like COVID-19 in the future.” ARSO’s Secretary General, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, noted that “While on one hand COVID-19 has created social distancing as a new norm, on another hand it has brought Africa together by opening our eyes to the need for industrialisation, pointing out that Standards circulated by ARSO and other standards organisations related to face masks, and hand sanitizers have been used widely by African SMEs to develop locally made personal protective equipment thereby shedding light on the role of standards in industrialization, safety, and trade, and the project, will not only help in increasing local production but will also create trust and enable cross border trade and investment for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.” (https://www.africanews.com/2020/09/14/afreximbank-and-international-islamic-trade-finance-corporation-itfc-partner-with-arso-to-facilitate-intra-african-trade-in-pharmaceuticals-and-medical-devices-under-the-umbrella-of-the-aatb-program/)

ARSO Webinar on Mitigating the COVID-19 Pandemic through the African Traditional Medicine

Focusing on the African Pharmaceutical industry and the Role of Standardisation. Experiences and Challenges of ARSO Members and Strategies for Africa’s resilience and increased intra-African Trade in the post COVID 19

14th OCTOBER 2020 – 1430 HRS – 1630 HRS EAST AFRICAN TIME.

CONCEPT NOTE

Moderator – ARSO – Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, ARSO

Sub-Topics and Proposed Speakers:

  1.  “Scope and Standardisation needs for the African Traditional Medicine (ATM) and the role of the WHO Policy on Mainstreaming and recognition of the ATM into National Health Care systems – highlights for the Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products; and the Medical devices and equipment – ARSO Central Secretariat (Mr. Reuben Gisore).
  1. Post COVID-19: repositioning Africa for self-reliance and resilience in the face of future Global pandemics: fast-tracking the development of “made in Africa” brands embedded in competitive regional value chains for Africa’s Key Sectors like Agro-processing and Pharmaceuticals: the AfCFTA Framework and opportunities and the role of Afreximbank – Afreximbank Official.
  1. Reducing the Africa’s overreliance on imports and thinking Africa’s Industrialisation: positive lessons arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic with potential Home-Grown Solutions, the various Challenges, best practices, needs and opportunities. NEPAD Official

ii       Experience and Challenges in the use of African Traditional Medicine – The Standardisation processes : Standards and Conformity Assessment activities : Policy and the Quality and Safety Issues – Case studies from ARSO members

  1. Algeria
  2. Ethiopia
  3. Madagascar,
  4. Nigeria.

Summary and Way Forward: ARSO – Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General.

Rationale for the Webinar and Background Information.

The COVID-19 pandemic which brought the world to a halt,  is considered as the most crucial global health calamity of the century and the greatest challenge that the humankind has faced since the 2nd World War, with the UN’s Framework for the Immediate Socio-Economic Response to the COVID 19 Crisis warning that “The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis as it is affecting societies and economies at their core. Indeed, never in the living memory, in recent times, has humanity faced such a challenge in medical, social and economic spheres of life that threatens the viability of all human systems and never before has health, safety and wellbeing been so vital to every aspect of our lives. COVID-19 presents unique challenges because it has no geographic center, its impact is dynamically shifting without regard to borders, and it spreads from human to human, thus threatening the very fabric of humanity that is embedded teamwork, interdependence and consultations, discussions and socialization among citizens.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have indicated COVID-19 pandemic as the largest threat to global economy since the financial emergency of 2008–2009, as COVID-19 has severely demobilized the global economy.  In its April 2020 report, the African Union has reported that “Indeed, the high dependency of African economies vis-à-vis foreign economies predicts a negative economic spinoff for the continent, evaluated at an average loss of 1.5 points on economic growth 2020 and t it is unlikely that the 3.4 percent economic growth rate for the continent, forecast last year by the African Development Bank, will be achieved because of the COVID 19 crisis”. (AUC, 2020, https://africatimes.com/2020/04/06/new-au-report-zeroes-in-on-covid-19-economic-impacts/).

In the midst of extraordinary challenges and uncertainties, leaders are under pressure to make decisions on managing the immediate and long term impact of the pandemic and its consequences, decisions that will shape the state of the world for years to come and what might be the silver linings in the crisis and how might leaders use this moment to build a more resilient, prosperous, equitable and sustainable world, is a subject of interest (World Economic Forum 2020). On a positive note, due to the endemic reliance on imports, and the breakdowns in supply chains associated with lockdown measures, for the African continent, COVID‑19 has strengthened the case for developing intra-African regional value chains and unlocking the continent’s business potential, while focusing on the African SMEs and Africa’s Industrialisation and Manufacturing. COVID 19 has also magnified Africa’s reliance on imported pharmaceuticals (both final and intermediate products) and amplified the urgency to build competitive, resilient and robust value chains in this sector, including mainstreaming the African Traditional Medicine in the National Healthcare systems and pharmaceutical policies. Karisha Banga, et al. 2020, highlights that in 2018, 82.2% and 95.9% of Africa’s imports of food items, and medicinal and pharmaceutical products, respectively, originated from outside the continent. Not only were many of the main providers of Africa’s pharmaceuticals heavily hit by COVID‑19 (with main sources of imports being the EU-27, India and Switzerland), but many have also limited exports of medical supplies and medicines associated with the pandemic, putting many African countries in perilous positions.

In the wake of countries’ struggles to procure essential medical products to fight COVID‑19, there has already been a positive shift from global, to, towards more regional and local supply chains (with local Manufacturers and SMEs taking the lead to manufacture the required PPEs that comply with the recommended product standards) and with policy re-orientation towards self-reliance and endogenous self-sustained development, within the broad industrialization agenda of Africa (accelerating structural transformation, manufacturing, regional value chains with commensurate positive effects on the made in Africa products and product  diversification) and within the prism of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)., . (https://trade4devnews.enhancedif.org/en/op-ed/boosting-african-regional-value-chain-development-response-covid-19-catalysing-role-afcfta). But the long-term economic benefits, according to UNCTAD, 2018c, will arise from unleashing the potential of regional value chains in the key sector, including Agro-processing and the pharmaceuticals (African Traditional Medicine), to foster manufacturing, trade, industrialisation and sustainable development.

At the continental level, UNECA and AFREXIMBANK have also partnered to support the scaling up of manufacturing of COVID‑19 medical supplies that can be produced in Africa and sent across borders. This is expected to facilitate a regional approach to developing medical value chains based on comparative advantages and economies of scale. It will also help ensure that African countries without the capacity to produce these products can access them from within the region. A recent survey jointly carried out by the Africa Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of UNECA and International Economics Consulting Ltd. (IEC) on the impact of COVID‑19 on business and trade across Africa substantiates the ability of African firms, with effective support from the African Quality Infrastructures (NSBs), to adapt and innovate in response to COVID‑19 challenges, including global supply chain disruptions.

Therefore, as countries all over the world are making a focused effort towards the re-opening of their economies with increased surge on the demand for safe and quality Personal Preventive Equipment, the role of standardisation is being tested and manifested at the same scale, to achieve the intricate balance of saving lives and livelihoods at the same time. Like their international counterparts (ISO, ASTML, AFNOR, CEN-CENELEC, SAC-China, SIS, INTERTEK, COTECNA) the African National Bureau of Standards and Certification Bodies are taking leadership role to offer, free of charge, the necessary standards  and Conformity Assessment Services (see the link https://www.arso-oran.org/standards-for-covid-19/) for the local manufacturers/SMEs. At the continental level, ARSO has partnered with the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) to launch a new Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) initiative called the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices in Africa, aimed at promoting the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices imported or produced on the continent. The initiative, to be implemented in a phased manner over three years, has begun with the harmonisation of standards for Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products (ARSO/TC 80), and Medical devices and equipment (ARSO/TC 78). The second phase will analyse and assess existing international, regional, and national standards for their suitability in meeting the unique challenges faced by African healthcare industries before achieving the 3rd phase, which is the harmonization of the related African Standards and their adoption on the continent. Participating ARSO members have nominated Experts to expedite the process.

Commenting on the initiative, ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol highlighted that “From a trade development standpoint, harmonizing the standards of pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Africa is a crucial first step in facilitating local production and trade within the sector and those standards will provide a necessary baseline from which to regulate the sector more effectively, raising the quality of locally produced life-saving drugs and related products”. Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Afreximbank’ s Managing Director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative praised the initiative, noting that“At a time when the demand for quality medicines and medical devices is increasing, Africa needs to reinforce regional value chains to scale-up the supply of quality medical products and build up the continent’s resilience against pandemics like COVID-19 in the future.” ARSO’s Secretary General, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, noted that “While on one hand COVID-19 has created social distancing as a new norm, on another hand it has brought Africa together by opening our eyes to the need for industrialisation, pointing out that Standards circulated by ARSO and other standards organisations related to face masks, and hand sanitizers have been used widely by African SMEs to develop locally made personal protective equipment thereby shedding light on the role of standards in industrialization, safety, and trade, and the project, will not only help in increasing local production but will also create trust and enable cross border trade and investment for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.” (https://www.africanews.com/2020/09/14/afreximbank-and-international-islamic-trade-finance-corporation-itfc-partner-with-arso-to-facilitate-intra-african-trade-in-pharmaceuticals-and-medical-devices-under-the-umbrella-of-the-aatb-program/).

The Webinar is also taking place when the International Standardisation Community is celebrating the 2020 World Standards Day on 14th October 2020 under the theme “Protecting the planet with standards”. In their Message, the IEC, ISO and ITU Presidents have highlighted that “the International standards prepared by IEC, ISO and ITU are used to help reduce the environmental impact of industrial production and processes and impact greatly on Government Policies and Health care Systems”. ARSO takes note of the initiatives by ISO to make its 20 standards freely available globally, including in Africa, (https://www.iso.org/covid19), AFNOR for the freely available AFNOR Spec – Barrier masks. The Standardisation Community appreciates ITU’s initiative  on the REG4COVID platform to serve as a repository of emergency actions that the digital community around the world is taking to ensure the continued availability, accessibility and resilience of networks and resources, including virtual standardisation activities.

In all these lies the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement that serves as the leading framework for boosting intra-African trade and fast-tracking the development of “made in Africa” brands embedded in competitive and robust regional value chains and ensuring that manufacturing, agro-processing and other activities across the continent are stimulated to supply the African Single Market’ and to position Africa, more strongly in the face of future global shocks and Pandemics.

The Webinar

Objective of the Webinar

The Main objective is to offer a platform for discussions on the COVID-19 pandemic, its effects on economies, the standardisation and conformity assessment systems being put in place by ARSO members, and more so the experiences of the ARSO members in the use of the Traditional medicine to offer herbal remedies to the citizens, while also focusing on building the Africa’s resilience in the post COVID-19, through increased industrialisation, manufacturing and establishment of regional value chains and intra-African trade.

Specific Objectives

  1. Understanding the COVID-19 effect on African Economies and how countries are responding with respect to intervention measures.
  2. Understanding the role of Standardisation and Conformity Assessment in the fight against the COVID-19.
  3. Understanding the standardisation activities of the ARSO Member States on providing solutions to the COVID-19.
  4. Understanding How the African Traditional Medicine is being applied among various ARSO member States to contain the COVID 19, and the various Challenges, best practices, needs and opportunities.
  • Identifying the positive lessons arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic with respect to Africa’s Industrialisation, Manufacturing and need for increased intra-African trade, with potential Home-Grown Solutions to support pandemic resilience for Africa.
  • Understanding the role of ARSO and its activities towards the mitigation of COVID-19 Pandemic, including standardisation and conformity Assessment activities, and the initiatives for the Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products and Medical devices and equipment.
  • Understanding the role of the International Community and the International Standards in the mitigation of COVID-19 Pandemic, highlighting the theme of the 2020 World Standards Day.

Outputs of Webinar

  1. Presentations.
  2. Discussions and comments on the COVID-19 Pandemic, the standardisation initiatives, the use African Traditional Medicine the policy gaps, African industrialization Agenda, the intra African trade.
  3. Report of the webinar.

Outcomes of Webinar

  1. Enhanced understanding of the COVID-19 effect on African Economies.
  2. Improved understanding of the role of African Traditional Medicine in mitigation of the COVID-19 and how to address the challenges associated with Quality and safety as well as policy gaps.
  3. Increased understanding of the need for Africa’s industrialisation, Manufacturing, Regional Value Chains and the Made in Africa products for Africa’s resilience and self-reliance, in the post COVID-19 and the need for necessary policies, as per the AfCFTA Agreement.
  4. Better understanding of the role of Standardisation (Quality Infrastructure) in the fight against COVID -19, and the need for harmonised standards and Conformity Assessment Procedures.
  5. Better Understanding of the need to promote Competitive Africa’s SMEs and made in Africa Products and the opportunities created under the AfCFTA.

Impact

  • Increased productivity and Trade in Made in African Products with established Regional Value Chains, including in the Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products and Medical devices and equipment, with increased Africa’s Industrialisation, manufacturing and Intra-African Trade.
  • Appreciation of the Role of African Traditional Medicine in the fight Against COVID-19 and strengthened efforts towards formulation of polices for mainstreaming ATM in the National Health Care systems.
  • Increased development, harmonisation and adoption of Standards and Conformity Assessment procedures for the management of the COVID-19 Pandemic, including putting in place policies for the post Covid-19 to help the continent handle such pandemics in future.
  • Increased awareness and accessibility of the existing international (ISO), Continental (ARSO), regional (RECs), and national (NSBs) standards in meeting the unique challenges faced by African healthcare industries
  • Strengthened Policies and Clear frameworks for activities that prioritize the production, trade and competiveness of Made in Africa Products, including the Pharmaceuticals and medicinal products and Medical devices and equipment’s.
  • Right policies for the competitiveness of the African SMEs for scaled up manufacturing of made in Africa products, under the key sector for Africa’s self-reliance and resilience, including COVID‑19 medical supplies and trade across the borders through established regional (medical) value chains based on comparative advantages and economies of scale
  • Increased partnerships and collaborations in the implementation of the standardisation activities that address Africa’s Industrialisation, manufacturing and Intra-African Trade, including the unique challenges of the African healthcare/Pharmaceutical industries.

Mode of Presentation

Speakers may prepare brief slides of no more than 5 minutes to guide the discussions. The presentations will be projected by the ARSO Secretariat. Speakers, therefore, are kindly requested to forward their presentations early enough. The webinar will focus more on discussions. Speakers are further requested to forward detailed notes to be used for reporting purposes. The Presentations will be shared with the Participants.

About ARSO – www.arso-oran.org

ARSO, the African Organisation for Standardisation, is an Intergovernmental Organisation formed by the African Union (formerly OAU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) in 1977 to promote Standardisation activities (harmonisation of standards and Conformity Assessment procedures) in Africa to facilitate intra-African and Global trade.

Audience

ARSO Membership, Experts and Stakeholders.

Cover Image Courtesy of Google Pictures (Market_Pharmacy_Tana_MS5179)

ASTM International – Helping Our World Work Better

By: Jim Olshefsky, Director of External Relations ASTM International

Abstract:  The article is intended to provide a brief introduction about ASTM International, its role in the development of standards, and promotion of the communication between ASTM International and worldwide national standards bodies, including the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO).

About ASTM International

ASTM International, formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, is a globally recognized leader in the development and delivery of voluntary consensus standards.  On June 16, 1898, seventy engineers and businessmen met in Philadelphia to form the American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials. The American Section’s first technical committee on steel initiated a series of discussions of testing and material standards for the railroad industry, where most of its members were employed.  At the fifth annual meeting of the American Section in 1902, they renamed the organization the American Society for Testing Materials.  In 2001, ASTM changed its name to “ASTM International” to better reflect ASTM’s support of a standards development process that incorporates consensus irrespective of national borders.  Today, over 12,000 ASTM standards are used around the world to improve product quality, enhance health and safety, strengthen market access and trade, and build consumer confidence.

ASTM’s leadership in international standards development is driven by the contributions of our members: more than 30,000 of the world’s top technical experts and business professionals representing 150 countries. Working in an open and transparent process and using ASTM’s advanced Information Technology (IT) infrastructure, ASTM members create the test methods, specifications, classifications, guides, and practices that support consumers, industries, and governments worldwide.

ASTM International standards are developed in accordance with the guiding principles of the World Trade Organization for the development of international standards: coherence, consensus, development dimension, effectiveness, impartiality, openness, relevance, and transparency.  ASTM International world headquarters is located in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.  The organization also has offices in Belgium, Canada, China, Peru, and Washington, D.C.  

Memorandum of Understanding Program

Launched in 2001, ASTM International’s Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) program promotes communication between ASTM International and national standards bodies worldwide, fostering awareness of the standardization systems of all parties involved. The purpose of the program is to increase greater worldwide participation in the ASTM standards development process and facilitate the development of national standards that will aid health, safety, environmental, and economic conditions.

ASTM has had an active role in Africa since the signing of its first MoU on the African continent with the Standards Association of Zimbabwe in 2002.  Since then, ASTM has signed MoU’s with 28 other African national standards bodies as well as two regional organizations; SADC Cooperation in Standards (SADCSTAN) in 2003 and the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) in 2019.  A 2014 conversation between ASTM’s Vice President of Global Cooperation, Teresa Cendrowska, and officials from the Cameroon Agence des Normes et de la Qualité (ANOR) led to the signing of an MoU with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) in 2015.   

“The MOU will strengthen the relationship between our organizations to help meet the needs of people and businesses in Africa and around the world.  In addition, the MOU will aid in the development of standards for health, safety and the environment in ARSO member states,” concluded the ASTM President at the occasion of the signing of the MoU between ARSO and ASTM in 2015.

Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, ARSO’s Secretary General, and Ms. Teresa Cendrowska, ASTM VP of Global Cooperation meet in Nairobi, Kenya at ARSO headquarters in 2018.  

ARSO, formerly the African Regional Organisation for Standardisation traces its genesis to the unfolding events and the prevailing mood of the African socio-political and economic Pan-Africanism of the 1970s and the culmination of which at a Conference held at the historic and important city of Accra, Ghana in 1977.  In January of that year, the African Governments under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) (currently African Union (AU)) convened the Founding Conference of ARSO to consider the first Constitution of ARSO and to witness the formation of the Organisation to speed-up African Economic Integration.  Today, ARSO serves as Africa’s intergovernmental standards body with the mandate of creating tools for standards development, harmonization, and implementation. Together, these systems work to enhance Africa’s internal trading capacity, increase Africa’s product and service competitiveness globally, uplift the welfare of African consumers, and serve as a standardization forum for future prospects in international trade.

The MoU signed between ASTM International and ARSO provides the opportunity for both organizations to have closer communications. It allows ASTM International’s technical resources to strengthen the relationship between the two parties to enhance their support for the needs of the ARSO Member States. ASTM International annually provides a complete subscription of its 12,000 standards to ARSO for its use in strengthening the ARSO standards program.  Currently, ASTM has 116 MoU’s with national standards bodies and regional bodies worldwide, the most recent of which was an MoU signed with the Standards New Zealand  in August 2020.

As reported by ARSO members in their respective annual reports to ASTM International, there are 6,632

citations to ASTM International standards from 131 ASTM technical committees. The use of ASTM standards yields many benefits and opportunities for the individual nations, the continent of Africa, and globally:

  • Significant cost and time reduction to deliver standards
  • Advances technical content and discussion
  • Provides a common technical, business and regulatory language
  • Enables the use of international standards
  • Limits potential for barriers to trade
  • Supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals

Individual MoU partner countries in Africa include Algeria, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Eswatini, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

How ASTM Standards are Used

The information below provides some examples of how various African countries are utilizing ASTM International standards in several industry sectors.

ASTM Membership Requirements

Many professionals and students in Africa have taken advantage of the opportunity to participate as members of ASTM International, which is one of the benefits of the MoU program.  Membership with ASTM International offers a wealth of opportunities, including the ability to propose modifications to the content of the standards and to make contact with some of the world’s renowned experts.  ASTM membership is open to any interested party and requests for membership applications can be addressed to the author or found on the ASTM website.

ASTM Standard Development Process

The process used by ASTM International to develop standards is extremely flexible, refined over 120 years, to accommodate a diverse collection of activities. Test methods, specifications, classifications, practices, guides, and terminology are different categories of standards offered by ASTM. Areas ranging from petroleum, steel, and plastics, to homeland security, unmanned vehicles, and sustainability have all achieved standards-based solutions via ASTM’s standard development process.

ASTM receives a variety of requests for new standards development activities ranging from the development of a single standard to the formation of a new main technical committee. It’s important to note that not all requests ultimately reach fruition. As the organizational process evolves, it may be determined that the stakeholder’s interest is insufficient, other standards may exist that satisfy the particular need, or that it is premature for a consensus standards program. When a request is initially submitted, ASTM maps the scope and subject area to its existing committee population. If ASTM can find an appropriate venue, it coordinates the proposed activity with the officers of the committee and subcommittee(s) in question. If the request covers an area unrepresented within ASTM, the staff will proceed with their new organizational activity process.

All technical decisions regarding a proposed activity are made by the appropriate committee members who are technical experts from industry, government, academia, and consumers, not by the ASTM staff. Specific staff resources and activities include the following:

  • Staff management and administrative support for all technical committees
  • Professional editing
  • Providing templates for new standards
  • Web-based collaborative areas for pre-ballot standards work
  • Web conferencing
  • Electronic submittals and balloting of standards
  • Product and Personnel Certification Services
  • Interlaboratory study program
  • Training and symposia services

Should there be a need to revise an existing ASTM International standard, to closely meet specific needs, the first step is to contact the chair of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the document in question to explain the rationale for that proposed change.  The request will trigger the formation of a task group to develop a revision. If it is not known which subcommittee has jurisdiction, the staff manager should be contacted or the ASTM International website should be searched to locate the specific committee, subcommittee, and staff manager for all approved ASTM International standards.

There are many different roles within the ASTM standards development process including: ASTM technical committee members, technical contacts for work items, subcommittee and main committee officers, and attendees at meetings. The ASTM Regulations’ Appendix B: ASTM International Responsibilities of Membership are intended to assist members in the ASTM process in executing their respective roles and responsibilities. Because no single set of guidelines can address every possible situation, ASTM members and visitors attempt to act in a manner which is consistent with the mission of ASTM and its policies, as well as the spirit of these guidelines. Concerns regarding member responsibilities are reviewed and resolved by the appropriate officers of the technical committee.

Once approval has been received from the subcommittee to begin a revision, a new work item should be registered using the registration form in the “Members Only” area of the ASTM website.  An electronic version of the ASTM standard are sent to the requester in Microsoft Word. Ballot submittal instructions are included along with the Word document. It should be noted that if any problems arise during the revision process, the staff manager of the committee will be available to resolve them.

The ballot must contain a cover letter explaining the reason for the proposed action. Examples of such reasons are the following:

  • Request by an organization or individual for a new standard
  • Substantive changes made in response to negative votes or comments on a previous ballot
  • Request for revisions to a standard
  • Any other circumstance prompting a subcommittee ballot

Subcommittee ballots are conducted by ASTM headquarters. The ballot results, negatives, and comments are included in a closing report which all subcommittee members can access via the ASTM website once the ballot is closed.  Sixty percent of the official voting members must return ballots before the ballot can close. Abstaining votes are counted for the requirement.  An affirmative vote of at least two-thirds of the combined affirmative and negative votes cast by the official voting members on each ballot item is required for a successful ballot of that item. Abstentions do not count in the calculation.

Negative votes received on subcommittee ballots are considered by the subcommittee that initiated the item. If substantive changes to the document are made in response to a persuasive negative vote, the item must be re-balloted. If, however, all negative votes are withdrawn or ruled not related or not persuasive, the item may go on to main committee ballot assuming all other ballot requirements are met.

The ASTM Regulations mandate that all negative votes must be considered, and proper consideration of negative votes cast throughout the ballot process demands that due process be afforded to all negative voters. Negative votes received on subcommittee ballots are considered by the subcommittee that initiated the ballot item. Negative votes received on main committee ballots are considered by the subcommittee that initiated the ballot item and, if necessary, by the main committee. The subcommittee chair report at the main meeting must report on these negative votes and the subcommittee’s consideration of them, including rationales for any action taken and vote counts on motions. At the main meeting, the committee chair must allow discussion before taking a vote on any motions to uphold the actions of the subcommittee. A hand count of official voting members must be taken on these motions. The votes are recorded, along with the reasons for the motion, in the minutes.

After a standard has successfully cleared the three levels of peer review provided by ASTM (subcommittee, main committee, and Society), it is assigned a fixed alphanumeric designation and receives an official approval date. The document is then considered to be an ASTM standard and is capable of being cited in contractual language, referenced by a code body, or mandated by a state or local government.  Average development time for a new standard is approximately 18 months and eight months for a revision of a currently approved standard.

During the main committee ballot and Society Review, the ASTM editorial department works to ensure that the standard is in the correct format and is correctly tagged using Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML).

Approximately eight weeks after a standard is approved, it is available for distribution as a stand-alone document in a variety of media (email, fax, hard-copy) and may be purchased from ASTM International via customer service (610-832-9585) or the ASTM International website (www.astm.org). All ASTM International standards are housed in specific volumes of ASTM’s annual book of standards.  Several translations of ASTM standards are also available for sale and can be found by visiting the Standards and Publications pages of the ASTM website.  

Proficiency Testing Programs

ASTM proficiency testing programs are statistical quality assurance programs that enable laboratories to evaluate & improve performance, as well as maintain and fulfill mandatory accreditation requirements.  As a proficiency testing program participant, laboratories receive different samples (representative of the product line) for each test cycle, electronic data submittal forms, and test instructions. The laboratory performs the test they normally conduct within their own facility using the specified ASTM methods cited in the program. Upon completing the tests, each laboratory electronically submits their test data to ASTM for use in generating statistical summary reports. 70 laboratories from 15 different African countries, are already participating in 35 different programs.

Visits of International Delegates to ASTM International

In 2019, ASTM staff met with a delegation of international experts at the Bi-annual meetings of ASTM committee D02 on petroleum products, liquid fuels, and lubricants in New Orleans, LA, USA. The visit focused on learning more about the U.S. standardization system, ASTM’s standardization process, and specifically ASTM standards for petroleum products. The delegation included experts from the petroleum industry globally, some of whom were traveling to the meetings on business and others who were participating in ASTM led programs.  ASTM regularly offers capacity building activities both in-person and online.

From left to right: Elton Patram, Guyana National Standards Bureau; Jaeuk Ahn, Korean Agency for Technology and Standards; Paul Ameh, Standards Organization of Nigeria; Jerome Nzuba, Kenya Bureau of Standards; Joyce Mbeyella, Colonial Pipeline Co. (originally Tanzania); Ricardo Villalva, Petro Ecuador

Opportunities for delegations or individuals to visit ASTM International are available to representatives of industry and government. These visits are for those who wish to use or better understand ASTM International standards and/or contribute to the content of the ASTM standards to reflect local market and regulatory needs.  Participants can meet with technical experts in their field and develop a network of contacts.  A typical program includes eight to ten participants who are technical experts within a sector or technical field.  Costs are covered primarily by the participants’ sponsoring industry or government, although ASTM staff plans and executes these programs, including key site visits, for which it does not charge the participants.

ASTM and ARSO will continue to take steps to encourage and support greater African participation in ASTM standards development activities and in laboratory proficiency testing programs. Together they will pursue professional exchange programs for ARSO experts to come to ASTM International Headquarters for extended study of the ASTM International standards development process. 

About the Author

Mr. Jim Olshefsky has worked at ASTM International for 22 years supporting the development and promotion of voluntary consensus standards for materials, products, systems and services.  In 2007, Mr. Olshefsky assumed the role of Director of External Relations where he helps to facilitate ASTM’s international outreach within ASTM’s Global Cooperation Department.  Mr. Olshefsky supports ASTM’s Memorandum of Understanding program with developing countries and his work is focused in Latin America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.  His contributions include speaking to international audiences, students, and educators to promote the use of ASTM standards worldwide and to encourage increased standards education at universities.  Prior to moving to Global Cooperation, he directed ASTM’s Committee Services Department in the Technical Committee Operations Division and spent several years as a Staff Manager of various ASTM technical committees.  Mr. Olshefsky has a BS degree in Business Logistics from the Pennsylvania State University.

More information on the MoU program can be found on the ASTM International Web site (www.astm.org/GLOBAL) or contact Mr. Jim Olshefsky at jolshefsky@astm.org

Jim Olshefsky, ASTM International, attending the 2018 ARSO
General Assembly

Press Release – AFREXIMBANK and ITFC Partner with ARSO to Facilitate Intra-African Trade in Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices, under the Umbrella of the AATB Program


The new initiative aims to harmonize African standards for pharmaceuticals and medical devices thereby enhancing intra-African trade, reducing substandard counterfeit products, and building resilient regional health systems.

(Jeddah, Cairo, Nairobi, 14 September 2020) – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), have partnered with the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), to launch a new Arab-Africa Trade Bridges Program (AATB) initiative called the Harmonisation of Standards for Pharmaceutical and Medical Devices in Africa, aimed at promoting the quality and safety of medicines and medical devices imported or produced on the continent.

Harmonized product standards are critical to the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), ensuring that producers of goods on the continent comply with one shared set of minimum regulatory and customer quality requirements, in turn allowing them to supply the continental market and beyond with goods that meet those standards. The harmonisation of standards also serves to enhance the quality of African manufacturing and boost intra-African and Arab-African trade and investment – one of the AATB’s key objectives.

The initiative, which will be implemented in a phased manner over three years, begins immediately with the harmonisation of standards for pharmaceutical products and medical devices for use in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The second phase will analyse and assess existing international, regional, and national standards for their suitability in meeting the unique challenges faced by African healthcare industries before achieving the 3rd phase, which is the harmonization of the related African Standards and their adoption on the continent.

Commenting on the initiative, ITFC CEO, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol said, “From a trade development standpoint, harmonizing the standards of pharmaceutical products and medical devices in Africa is a crucial first step in facilitating local production and trade within sector. Such standards provide a necessary baseline from which to regulate the sector more effectively, raising the quality of locally produced life-saving drugs and related products, and ensuring timely access to appropriate and affordable medicines, vaccines, and other health services for those who need them most. It will also act as a catalyst for Africa to benefit from a burgeoning pharmaceutical sector, expanding trade opportunities locally and beyond borders thus creating long term sustainable socio-economic impact on the continent”.

The initiative will also serve to enhance trade and investment within Africa’s healthcare industry by boosting the manufacture of high-quality homegrown products and services – objectives laid out within the AfCFTA.

Welcoming the initiative, Mrs. Kanayo Awani, Afreximbank’s Managing Director of the Intra-African Trade Initiative said, “At a time when the demand for quality medicines and medical devices is increasing, Africa needs to reinforce regional value chains to scale-up the supply of quality medical products. This would also contribute to building the continent’s resilience against pandemics like COVID-19 in the future. Furthermore, leveraging on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, this joint initiative will also facilitate increased intra-African trade in pharmaceuticals and medical consumables.”

As part of a COVID-19 response, the harmonization of standards will facilitate the development of equivalent technical regulations among African countries. Therefore, distribution of medical supplies and equipment from one country to another can be fast-tracked.

A long-term outcome of the initiative will be the emergence of regional supply chains for pharmaceutical and medical devices, which will foster an ecosystem of innovation, local production and the development of medical products for diseases that are currently neglected.

Commenting on the initiative, ARSO’s Secretary General, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, said “While on one hand COVID-19 has created social distancing as a new norm, on another hand it has brought Africa together by opening our eyes to the need for industrialisation. Standards circulated by ARSO and other standards organisations related to face masks, and hand sanitizers have been used widely by African SMEs to develop locally made personal protective equipment thereby shedding light on the role of standards in industrialization, safety, and trade. This Initiative with Afreximbank and ITFC, will not only help in increasing local production but will also create trust and enable cross border trade and investment for pharmaceutical products and medical devices.”

The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) will play a key role in the development of standardization policies, applying existing principles and procedures that are already set out in the African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM). ARSO’s involvement will be supported by its Council, in addition to a Joint Advisory Group comprised of Regional Economic Communities, and a series of technical committees, which will carry out the harmonisation work with the resources provided under this grant from AFREXIMBANK and ITFC.

-End-

About the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC)

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC member countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world.  Since 2008, ITFC has provided more than US$51 billion to OIC member countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for the Member Countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC Member Countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in Member Countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.

Contact us 

Twitter: @ITFCCORP 

Facebook: @ITFCCORP 

LinkedIn: International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) 

Tel: +966 12 646 8337

Fax: +966 12 637 1064 

E-mail: ITFC@itfc-idb.org 

About the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank)

The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution with the mandate of financing and promoting intra-and extra-African trade. Afreximbank was established in October 1993 and owned by African governments, the African Development Bank, and other African multilateral financial institutions as well as African and non-African public and private investors. The Bank was established under two constitutive documents, an Agreement signed by member states, which confers on the Bank the status of an international organization, and a Charter signed by all Shareholders, which governs its corporate structure and operations. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that are supporting the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby sustaining economic expansion in Africa. At the end of 2019, the Bank’s total assets and guarantees stood at USD$15.5 billion and its shareholders funds amounted to US$2.8 billion. Voted “African Bank of the Year” in 2019, the Bank disbursed more than US$31billion between 2016 and 2019. Afreximbank has ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A-), Moody’s (Baa1) and Fitch (BBB-). The Bank is headquartered in Cairo, Egypt.

For more information, visit: www.afreximbank.com.

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About the African Organization for Standardisation (ARSO

The African Organization for Standardisation (ARSO) traces its genesis to the unfolding events and the prevailing mood of the African socio-political and economic Pan-Africanism of the 1970s, the idea of a continental standardization body had received considerable impetus from the buoyant and optimistic mood that characterized the post-independence period in most of Africa.  The mood then, under the Organisation of African Unity (OAU),currently African Union, was one of pan-African solidarity and collective self-reliance born of a shared destiny with standardization viewed as a guidepost of the destiny and bedrock of African Economic Integration Agenda and a route to linking up of the fresh Africa’s economy with the rest of the world and to deliver the African Common Market for economic prosperity of the continent. ARSO was then established by OAU as intergovernmental organization, 1977 mandated to harmonize standards and conformity assessment to increase intra Africa trade and global trade. Under the AfCFTA agreement, ARSO is in charge of developing standards to be used by the State party. The standardization work is done by experts nominated by African Union’s member states who are members of ARSO, and the work is guided by the Africa Standard Harmonization Model (ASHAM).

About the Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program

AATB is a multi-donor, multi-country and multi-organizations program, aiming to promote and increase trade and investment flows between African and Arab member countries; provide and support trade finance and export credit insurance; and enhance existing capacity building tools relating to trade. The program specifically focuses on the key sectors of agriculture and related industries including textiles; health industry including pharmaceuticals; infrastructure and transport; and petrochemicals, construction material and technology.

Contact us 

Twitter: @aatb_program

Facebook: @aatbprogram

E-mail: aatb@itfc-idb.org 

ARSO Webinar: Understanding the ASHAM in promoting the Policy of One Standard One Market for the Implementation of the AFCFTA AGREEMENT, TBT ANNEX 6


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02.30 p.m. to 04.30 p.m. East African Time 21st July 2020

CONCEPT NOTE

Presiding Moderator: Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, African Organization for Standardization

Speakers

  •  Highlights of the The African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM)- Principles, Objectives, Structures and standards Harmonisation Process and the TBT Annex 6- Reuben Gisore, Technical Director, ARSO.
  • The Standardisation Process and the Role of Experts in the ARSO Standards Harmonisation Process under ASHAM – Shady Nabil, Ass. Professor (Egypt) – Chairperson for THC03 – Building and Construction.
  • The Roles of the Technical Committees, Sub- Committees and the Working Groups (TCs, SCs, WGs) – Ms. Amanda Gcabashe, South Africa – Chairperson of the ARSO THC 13 on African Traditional Medicine.
  • Summary and Way Forward: Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, ARSO.

Rationale for the Webinar and Background Information on ASHAM.

The Abuja Treaty of 1991 establishing the African Economic Community Chapter XI, Article 67 where member states agreed to, among others, adopt a common policy on standardization and quality assurance of goods and services among member states. This was reinforced by the Conference of African Ministers of Trade (CAMI 17) in 2004, which highlighted the need for an Experts Led developed Policy Document for harmonising the African Standards and based on the WTO TBT Agreement principles of openness, consultation and transparency, as expressed in Annex 3 on the code of good practice in the preparation, adoption and application of standards.

Upon this background ARSO in collaboration with the EOS, Egypt organised the 1st Expert Working Group (EWG) Meeting on Evolution of African Standards Harmonisation Model (ASHAM) in Cairo, Egypt on 22-25 May 2007, hosted by the Arab Republic of Egypt AND sponsored by the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida), with Experts from ARSO Member States, RECs and Representatives of AU and UNECA. The EWG evolved the ASHAM in two parts namely at the sub-regional and the regional levels.  The harmonisation model was addressed as a recommendation to the sub-regional harmonisation groups with a view to ensuring that all the sub-regional groupings were working according to the same principles which would create confidence among African countries to accept sub-regional harmonised standards.

The 42 ARSO Council, held on 31st March – 1st April 2011, at the Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, under its resolution 2, ii, DIRECTED that the ASHAM Model be fully developed to include procedures and marketed to all African stakeholders in simple formats and especially through the NSBs and REC focal points. The first Draft was presented to the 43rd ARSO Council meeting, held in ECA Conference Centre, Caucus Room 10, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia ON 23rd – 24th June 2011, which, under its resolution 6, REVIEWED AND APPROVED the first draft of the Standards Harmonization Procedures Manual (ASHAM-SHP-01). The Draft was further validated during the ARSO-PTB Training on the Interplay between Standards and Technical Regulations in October 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The ARSO General Assembly, in its 18th Session held on 20 November 2011in Windhoek, Namibia, considered the ASHAM which was presented to the Assembly as ARSO General Assembly Document No.  18GA/4 – ASHAM-SHP-01, and under its resolution 13, RATIFED the ASHAM.

In furtherance of the  “One Standard-One market policy”  the AfCFTA Agreement in the objectives of the TBT Annex 6, calls for the need to identify and assess the instruments for trade facilitation such as harmonization of standards, equivalence of technical regulations, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment, and the reinforcement of international best practices in regulation and standards setting, through establishing mechanisms and structures to enhance transparency in the development and implementation of standards, technical regulations, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment procedures.

ASHAM REVIEW – THE 2ND EDITION 2019

In order to reflect the new emerging dynamics under the ARSO-RECS Standards Harmonisation Cooperation, the review of ASHAM was initiated in 2018 in which various changes in the ASHAM Structure, including the creation of the African Advisory Group (JAG) and Standards Management Committee (SMC) were created, to reflect the joint ARSO-RECs harmonization activities and joint priorities derived from RECs’ and AU development Agendas and as per the TBT Annex 6 directives on Cooperation Mechanisms in standards development and harmonisation.

Therefore, the 59th ARSO Council Meeting , held at the Boma Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya  on 6th December 2018 under the theme: “The Role of ARSO within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), under its Resolution 8 on ARSO Council Committee (Technical Management Committee) Recommendations, on Item number 4, Proceedings of ARSO-RECs Meeting Report, Nairobi 22nd – 24th October, 2018, (a, iii) TOOK NOTE of the, NEED to ensure comprehensive Stakeholders Engagement in the selection of standardisation projects in ARSO-RECS common priority sectors, and under b, iii,  APPROVED, (i) the Review of the African Standards Harmonization Model (ASHAM) to reflect the joint ARSO-RECs harmonization and reflection of the adoption of the African Standards at RECs levels, (ii) the Establishment of the Joint Advisory Group (JAG) to guide the process of joint ARSO-RECs standards harmonization, and the Standards Management Committee (SMC) to be in charge of the management of procedures (ii)  The development of Joint New Work items generated by RECs and National country members and the analysis of the ARSO and RECS catalogues. Further, the 60th ARSO Council held on 17th and 18th June 2019, at Panari, Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, under its resolution   8, ARSO Council Committee (Technical Management Committee) Meetings and Reports, on item 4, the ARSO-RECs Joint Harmonization Update, (a) TOOK NOTE of the review of the African Standards Harmonization Model (ASHAM) to reflect the joint ARSO-RECs harmonization activities and joint priorities derived from RECs and AU development agendas. On the same note, the 25th General Assembly held at the Panari Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya on 20th June 2019, under its Resolution 7 (ARSO’s Current activities Status) and Resolution 9 a, ii, on Report of the ARSO Council (59th and 60th GA Decisions) to the General Assembly, respectively HIGHLIGHTED and TOOK NOTE the Review of the African Standards Harmonization Model (ASHAM) to reflect the joint ARSO-RECs standards harmonization activities and reflection of the adoption of the African Standards at RECs levels, formally ENDORSED the ASHAM review process.

THE ASHAM

In Scope, the ASHAM document lays down the basic principles ((Openness, Transparency, Impartiality, Coherence, Consensus and Development Dimension), procedures and mechanisms by which the ARSO Technical Harmonization Committees (THCs), ARSO Central Secretariat and the ARSO Member States are to harmonize, publish and maintain African Standards and other deliverables. The procedures define the methodologies for the development, harmonization, adoption and publication of African standards. The ASHAM Document clarifies the standards Harmonisation process, outlining the different stages and the responsibilities. The ASHAM Document defines the various Structures including the Joint Advisory Group (JAG), the Standards Management Committee (SMC), The Technical Committees, The Sub-Committees (SCs), The Working Groups and the role of the National Bureau of Standards. The Document highlights the TCs leadership structures and responsibilities.

Wherever feasible, and with the necessary modifications, the ASHAM procedures are based on the relevant ISO/IEC Directives. Cognizance has also been taken of the WTO TBT Agreements, and consideration of Annex 3 on best International Practices in standards development, adoption and application. The ASHAM document provides referenced documents which are indispensable for its application. For dated references, only the edition cited applies. For undated references, the latest edition of the referenced document (including any amendments) applies.

  1. The African Standards Harmonization Model (ASHAM)
  2. Treaties, Agreements and Protocols establishing the respective Regional Economic Communities and their attendant Standardization Bodies.
  3. ISO/IEC Directives ― Part 1: Procedures for the Technical Work
  4. ISO/IEC Directives ― Part 2: Rules for the structure and drafting of international standards
  5. WTO Agreement of Technical Barriers to Trade (WTO TBT Agreement)
  6. Procedures for Development of East African Standards, 2005
  7. Principles and Procedures for the Development of SADC Harmonized Texts, 2009
  8. Procedures for harmonization of standards in the COMESA Region, 2004
  9. Principles and Procedures for the Development of Tripartite Standards.

The Webinar

Objective of the Webinar

The Main objective is to offer a platform for discussion about the ARSO ASHAM, its objectives, Principles and Application in African Standards Development and Harmonisation as highlighted in the TBT Annex 6.

Specific Objectives

  1. Understanding the ASHAM Principles on standards harmonisation in line with the WTO TBT Agreements, Objectives and
  2. Undestanding the ASHAM Components and Structures, including the basic Committees (JAG, SMC, TCs, SCs, WGs) and their roles, including their leaderships.
  3. Understanding the basic ASHAM Reference Documents
  4. Understanding the Challenges and possible solutions in the implementation ASHAM.
  5. Understanding the Standards Hamonisation Process and the role of Experts

Outputs of Webinar

  1. Presentations of the ASHAM
  2. Discussions and Comments on the ASHAM
  3. Report of Webinar

Outcomes of Webinar

  1. Enhanced understanding of the ASHAM Principles, Structures and the ARSO Standards Harmonisation process and Activities, including the ARSO Standardisation Sectors and Technical Committees
  2. Enhanced Understanding of the Responsibilities of the Experts and Member States in ARSO Standards (ASHAM) Harmonisation process.
  3. Increased synergy and coordination in the Initiation and coordination in the development and Harmonisation of national and/or sub-regional standards as African standards, including role of RECs.
  4. Enhanced transparency in the development and implementation of standards, technical regulations, and metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment procedures.
  5. Capacity Building of the African Standaisation Experts.

ARSO LOGO WATERMARKImpact

  1. Increased Adoption and Implementation of African Standards
  2. Increased effectiveness of the NSBs national Mirror Committees and the Experts
  3. Greater Cooperation and coordination of the standards development and harmonisation process and the roles of all Technical Coomittees, Experts and Working Groups, as per the TBT Annex 6 of the AfCFTA.
  4. Compitent African Experts in standards Harmonisation Processes.
  5. Common policy on standardization and quality assurance of goods and services among member states, as per the Abuja Treaty Chapter XI, Article 67.
  6. openness, consultation and transparency, in ARSO Standaisation Process as expressed by the WTO TBT Agreement annex 3 on the code of good practice in the preparation, adoption and application of standards and TBT Annex 6, .

Mode of Presentation

Speakers from the ARSO member States may prepare brief slides of no more than 5 minutes to guide the discussions. The presentations will be projected by the ARSO Secretariat. Kindly forward the presentations early enough. The webinar will focus more on discussions. Speakers are requested to forward detailed notes to be used for reporting purposes.

Audience

ARSO Membership, Experts and Stakeholders.


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De 14:30 à 16:30 Heure de l’Afrique de l’Est 21 Juillet 2020

NOTE CONCEPTUELLE

Président modérateur: Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secrétaire général, Organisation africaine de normalisation (ORAN)

Intervenants

  • Points saillants du Modèle d’harmonisation des normes africaines (ASHAM) – Principes, objectifs, structures et processus d’harmonisation des normes et de l’annexe 6 des OTC – Reuben Gisore, directeur technique, ORAN.
  • Le processus de normalisation et le rôle des experts dans le processus d’harmonisation des normes de l’ORAN dans le cadre de l’ASHAM – Shady Nabil, Ass. Professeur (Égypte) – Président de la THC03 – Bâtiment et construction.
  • Les rôles des comités techniques, des sous-comités et des groupes de travail (CT, SC, GT) – Mme Amanda Gcabashe, Afrique du Sud – Présidente de l’ORAN THC 13 sur la médecine traditionnelle africaine.
  • Résumé et perspectives d’avenir : Dr.Hermogene Nsengimana, secrétaire général, ORAN.

Justification du webinaire et informations générales sur l’ASHAM.

Le Traité d’Abuja de 1991 établissant la Communauté économique africaine Chapitre XI, article 67 où les États membres ont convenu, entre autres, d’adopter une politique commune de normalisation et d’assurance qualité des biens et des services entre les États membres. Ceci a été renforcé par la Conférence des ministres africains du commerce (CAMI 17) en 2004, qui a souligné la nécessité d’un document politique élaboré par des experts pour harmoniser les normes africaines et basé sur les principes d’ouverture, de consultation et de transparence de l’Accord OTC de l’OMC, comme exprimé dans l’annexe 3 sur le code de bonne pratique pour la préparation, l’adoption et l’application des normes.

Dans ce contexte, l’ORAN a organisé, en collaboration avec l’EOS, la première réunion du groupe de travail d’experts (EWG) sur l’évolution du modèle d’harmonisation des normes africaines (ASHAM) au Caire, en Égypte, du 22 au 25 mai 2007, accueillie par la République arabe d’Égypte et parrainée par l’Agence suédoise de coopération internationale au développement (ASDI), avec des experts des États membres de l’ORAN, des CER et des représentants de l’UA et de l’UNECA. Le EWG a fait évoluer l’ASHAM en deux parties, à savoir au niveau sous-régional et au niveau régional.  Le modèle d’harmonisation a été adressé sous forme de recommandation aux groupes d’harmonisation sous-régionaux afin de s’assurer que tous les groupements sous-régionaux travaillent selon les mêmes principes, ce qui créerait la confiance des pays africains pour accepter les normes harmonisées sous-régionales.

Le 42ème Conseil de l’ORAN, tenu les 31 mars et 1er avril 2011, au Nicon Luxury Hotel, Abuja, Nigeria, en vertu de sa résolution 2, ii, A COMMANDÉ que le modèle ASHAM soit pleinement développé pour inclure des procédures et distribué à toutes les parties prenantes africaines dans des formats simples et en particulier par le biais des ONN et des points focaux des CER. Le premier projet a été présenté à la 43e réunion du Conseil de l’ORAN, tenue au Centre de conférence de la CEA, Caucus Room 10, Addis-Abeba, Ethiopie, les 23 et 24 juin 2011, qui, en vertu de sa résolution 6, A EXAMINÉ ET APPROUVE le premier projet du Manuel de procédures d’harmonisation des normes (ASHAM-SHP-01). Le projet a été validé lors de la formation ORAN-PTB sur l’interaction entre les normes et les règlements techniques en octobre 2011, à Addis-Abeba, en Ethiopie.

L’Assemblée générale de l’ORAN, lors de sa 18e session tenue le 20 novembre 2011 à Windhoek, Namibie, a examiné l’ASHAM qui a été présentée à l’Assemblée en tant que document n° 18GA/4 – ASHAM-SHP-01 de l’Assemblée générale de l’ORAN et, en vertu de sa résolution 13, A RATIFIÉ l’ASHAM.

Dans le cadre de la politique “Une norme, un marché”, l’accord ZLECAf, dans les objectifs de l’annexe 6 des OTC, souligne la nécessité d’identifier et d’évaluer les instruments de facilitation des échanges tels que l’harmonisation des normes, l’équivalence des règlements techniques, la métrologie, l’accréditation et l’évaluation de la conformité, et le renforcement des meilleures pratiques internationales en matière de réglementation et de normalisation, en établissant des mécanismes et des structures visant à améliorer la transparence dans l’élaboration et la mise en œuvre des normes, des règlements techniques, de la métrologie, des procédures d’accréditation et d’évaluation de la conformité.

REVUE ASHAM – 2E ÉDITION 2019

Afin de refléter la nouvelle dynamique émergente dans le cadre de la coopération d’ORAN et les CER en matière d’harmonisation des normes, la révision de l’ASHAM a été lancée en 2018. Diverses modifications ont été apportées à la structure de l’ASHAM, notamment la création du Groupe Consultatif Conjoint (JAG) et du Comité de Gestion des Normes (SMC), afin de refléter les activités d’harmonisation conjointes d’ORAN et les CER et les priorités communes découlant des agendas de développement des CER et de l’UA et conformément aux directives de l’annexe 6 des OTC sur les mécanismes de coopération en matière d’élaboration et d’harmonisation des normes.

La 59ème réunion du Conseil de l’ORAN, tenue à l’hôtel Boma à Nairobi, Kenya, le 6 décembre 2018, sur le thème “Le rôle de l’ORAN au sein de la zone de libre-échange continentale africaine (ZLECAf), dans le cadre de sa résolution RESOLUTION 8: COMITE DU CONSEIL DE L’ORAN (Comité technique de gestion), sur le point numéro 4, Compte rendu de la réunion ORAN-CER, Nairobi du 22 au 24 octobre 2018, (a, iii) A PRI NOTE de la NÉCESSITÉ d’assurer un engagement complet des parties prenantes dans la sélection des projets de normalisation dans les secteurs prioritaires communs ORAN-CER, et sous b, iii, A APPROUVÉ, l’examen du modèle d’harmonisation des normes africaines (ASHAM) pour refléter l’harmonisation conjointe ORAN-CER et la prise en compte de l’adoption des normes africaines au niveau des CER et la création du groupe consultatif conjoint (JAG) pour guider le processus d’harmonisation conjointe des normes ORAN-CER; L’élaboration de nouveaux travaux de normes communs générés par les CER et les pays membres nationaux et l’analyse des catalogues de l’ORAN et des CER et la mise en place du Comité de gestion des normes (SMC) qui sera chargé de la gestion des procédures. En outre, le 60e Conseil de l’ORAN qui s’est tenu les 17 et 18 juin 2019, au Panari, Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, en vertu de sa résolution 8, Réunions et rapports du Comité du Conseil de l’ORAN (Comité technique de gestion), sur le point 4, la mise à jour de l’harmonisation conjointe ORAN-CER, (a) A PRI NOTE de la révision du Modèle d’harmonisation des normes africaines (ASHAM) pour refléter les activités d’harmonisation conjointes ORAN-CER et les priorités communes dérivées des programmes de développement des CER et de l’UA. Sur la même note, la 25e Assemblée générale qui s’est tenue à l’hôtel Panari, Nairobi, Kenya, le 20 juin 2019, en vertu de sa résolution 7, sur le statut actuel de l’ORAN dans le cadre du plan stratégique 2017-2022, et de la résolution 9 a, ii, sur le rapport du Conseil de l’ORAN sur les activités du Conseil et le statut de l’ORAN depuis la dernière Assemblée générale de l’ORAN (24e AG), sur la base des résolutions des 59e et 60e réunions du conseil de l’ORAN, respectivement, A SOULIGNÉ et FAIT REMARQUER l’examen du modèle d’harmonisation des normes africaines (ASHAM) pour refléter les activités conjointes d’harmonisation des normes de l’ORAN et des CER et la prise en compte de l’adoption des normes africaines au niveau des CER, en approuvant officiellement le processus d’examen de l’ASHAM.

L’ASHAM

Le document ASHAM définit les principes de base (ouverture, transparence, impartialité, cohérence, consensus et dimension de développement), les procédures et les mécanismes par lesquels les comités d’harmonisation technique (THC) de l’ORAN, le secrétariat central de l’ORAN et les États membres de l’ORAN doivent harmoniser, publier et maintenir les normes africaines et autres produits. Les procédures définissent les méthodologies pour le développement, l’harmonisation, l’adoption et la publication des normes africaines. Le document de l’ASHAM clarifie le processus d’harmonisation des normes, en décrivant les différentes étapes et les responsabilités. Le document ASHAM définit les différentes structures, notamment le groupe consultatif conjoint (JAG), le comité de gestion des normes (SMC), les comités techniques, les sous-comités (SC), les groupes de travail et le rôle du bureau national des normes. Le document met en évidence les structures de direction et les responsabilités des TC.

Dans la mesure du possible, et avec les modifications nécessaires, les procédures de l’ASHAM sont basées sur les directives pertinentes ISO/IEC. Il a également été tenu compte des accords OTC de l’OMC et de l’annexe 3 sur les meilleures pratiques internationales en matière d’élaboration, d’adoption et d’application des normes. Le document ASHAM fournit des documents de référence indispensables à son application. Pour les références datées, seule l’édition citée s’applique. Pour les références non datées, c’est la dernière édition du document référencé (y compris les amendements) qui s’applique.

  1. Le modèle africain d’harmonisation des normes (ASHAM)
  2. Traités, accords et protocoles établissant les communautés économiques régionales respectives et les organismes de normalisation correspondants.
  3. Directives ISO/CEI – Partie 1 : Procédures pour les travaux techniques
  4. Directives ISO/CEI – Partie 2 : Règles pour la structure et l’élaboration des normes internationales
  5. Accord de l’OMC sur les obstacles techniques au commerce (Accord OTC de l’OMC)
  6. Procédures pour l’élaboration de normes est-africaines, 2005
  7. Principes et procédures pour l’élaboration des textes harmonisés de la SADC, 2009
  8. Procédures d’harmonisation des normes dans la région du COMESA, 2004
  9. Principes et procédures pour l’élaboration de normes tripartites.

Le webinaire

Objectif du webinaire

L’objectif principal est d’offrir une plate-forme de discussion sur l’ORAN ASHAM, ses objectifs, ses principes et son application dans le développement et l’harmonisation des normes africaines, comme le souligne l’annexe 6 des OTC.

Objectifs spécifiques

  1. Comprendre les principes de l’ASHAM sur l’harmonisation des normes conformément aux accords OTC de l’OMC, les objectifs et
  2. Comprendre les composantes et les structures de l’ASHAM, y compris les comités de base (JAG, SMC, CT, SC, GT) et leurs rôles, y compris leur direction.
  3. Comprendre les documents de référence de base de l’ASHAM
  4. Comprendre les défis et les solutions possibles dans la mise en œuvre de l’ASHAM.
  5. Comprendre le processus d’harmonisation des normes et le rôle des experts

Résultats du webinaire

  1. Présentations de l’ASHAM
  2. Discussions et commentaires sur l’ASHAM
  3. Rapport du webinaire

Résultats à long-terme du webinaire

  1. Meilleure compréhension des principes et des structures de l’ASHAM ainsi que du processus et des activités d’harmonisation des normes de l’ORAN, y compris les secteurs de normalisation et les comités techniques de l’ORAN
  2. Meilleure compréhension des responsabilités des experts et des États membres dans le processus d’harmonisation des normes ORAN (ASHAM).
  3. Synergie et coordination accrues dans l’Initiation et la coordination dans le développement et l’Harmonisation des normes nationales et/ou sous-régionales en tant que normes africaines, y compris le rôle des CER.
  4. Amélioration de la transparence dans l’élaboration et la mise en œuvre des normes, des règlements techniques et des procédures de métrologie, d’accréditation et d’évaluation de la conformité.
  5. Renforcement des capacités des experts africains en matière de normalisation.

Impact

  1. Adoption et mise en œuvre accrues des normes africaines
  2. Efficacité accrue des comités miroirs nationaux des ONN et des experts
  3. Une plus grande coopération et coordination du processus d’élaboration et d’harmonisation des normes et des rôles de tous les comités techniques, experts et groupes de travail, conformément à l’annexe 6 OTC de la ZLECAf.
  4. Experts africains compétents en matière de processus d’harmonisation des normes.
  5. Politique commune de normalisation et d’assurance qualité des biens et services entre les Etats membres, conformément à l’article 67 du chapitre XI du Traité d’Abuja.
  6. L’ouverture, la consultation et la transparence, dans le cadre du processus de normalisation de l’ORAN tel qu’exprimé par l’annexe 3 de l’Accord OTC de l’OMC sur le code de bonne pratique pour la préparation, l’adoption et l’application des normes et l’annexe 6 de l’OTC,.

Mode de présentation

Les orateurs des États membres de l’ORAN peuvent préparer de brèves diapositives d’une durée maximale de 5 minutes pour orienter les discussions. Les présentations seront projetées par le secrétariat de l’ORAN. Veuillez faire parvenir les présentations suffisamment tôt. Le webinaire sera davantage axé sur les discussions. Les orateurs sont priés de transmettre des notes détaillées qui seront utilisées à des fins de compte rendu.

Audience

Membres, experts et parties prenantes de l’ORAN

COVID-19 Interventions – The Standardisation Solution: Webinar

ARE WE READY TO OPEN UP?

The COVID-19 Standards and Conformity Assessment Activities in ARSO Member States

The COVID-19 Standards and Conformity Assessment Activities in ARSO Member States

Date: 30th June 2020 at 1430HRS to 1630HRS East African Time

Register Here in Advance for this meeting: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZMsfu6orzouG9wEU_h1akW09K4yaypTpqdB

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

CONCEPT NOTE

Presiding Moderator: Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, African Organization for Standardization

Speakers

  1.  The African Traditional Medicine Guideline and Policy Document: African Traditional Medicine Interventions  and the African (ARSO) Standards on COVID-19 – ARSO Central Secretariat/ Reuben Gisore, Technical Director, ARSO
  2. COVID-19 Standardisation Interventions – Sharing Experience in Personal Protective EquipmentMr. Abderrahim TAIBI, Director of IMANOR – Morocco/IMANOR
  3. What are you doing today to get ready for the new normal?” –  Intertek’s PROTEK Programme- an end-to-end health, safety and wellbeing assurance programme – Millicent Njuguna –Mwangi, Lead Auditor/Head of Audit East Africa at Intertek
  4. COVID-19 Standardisation Interventions – Sharing Experience in South Africa on How Standards Help in Opening Up of SchoolsDr Sadhvir Bissoon – Executive Standards – South Africa/SABS
  5. COVID-19 Standardisation Interventions – Sharing Experience in Cameroon on How Standards help in the Work PlaceFrancis Zibi Zibi from Cameroon/ANOR
  6. How to ensure the conformity of your PPE in COVID-19 times?” – Wesley AONDO, Head of Operations PVOC, COTECNA, Kenya.
  7. Summary and Way Forward: Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, Secretary General, ARSO.

Rationale for the Webinar and Background Information

With the Covid-19 pandemic, declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the WHO,  intensifying globally, including in Africa and in the face of such an alarming situation that is exacting a heavy toll on countries’ health-care services and threatening the World Economy, including Africa, African leaders, under the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the International Community, under the WHO are putting in place, both short and long term Public Health strategies to mitigate the pandemic, which has brought with it a paradigm shift and a re-orientation from the traditional ways of global life styles, leading to Travel bans, Social distancing, Use of Protective Personal Equipment, Lockdowns, culminating into  New ways of doing old things with new things replacing the old- “the New Norm”.

The WHO’s Regional Office for Africa in hosting a virtual ‘hackathon’ bringing together 100 leading innovators to pioneer creative local solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic and to address critical gaps in the regional response, with proposals including the provision of Quality and Safe personal protective equipment (PPE). Already the African Traditional Medicine and Herbal solutions are being touted to provide solutions, for example the Madagascar Artamisia covid-organics and the Kenyan Zedupex, thus highlighting the importance of the Standards to mitigate the issues of efficacy, Safety, Quality & Quality Control, Processing and harvesting ,  Pharmacogivilane and Administrative issue.

The COVID-19 Standardisation Solutions

The COVID-19 Pandemic has offered yet a more concrete evidence of the enduring role of standards and the related quality infrastructure components (technical regulations, conformity assessment regimes (testing, certification, inspections), metrology, accreditation, market surveillance and quality assurance), in enhancing Government policy objectives, not only in trade of products and services, but also in Public Policy, human health, Safety and environmental management.

The standards and the related quality infrastructure organizations are in the frontline to ensure safe the production of quality and safe products, as there is increased and essential demand for safe and quality Personal Preventive Equipment (PPE) measures (face masks, sanitizers, safe water and soaps, medical gloves, clinical electrical thermometers, medical waste management and disposal), to counterbalance the the counterfeits. Across the Globe, the Standardisation Community are offering free of Charge standards and conformity Assessment for the manufacturing of Safe and Quality PPEs, as the COVID-19 Pandemic evolves rapidly and uncertainly. Like their international counterparts (ISO, ASTML, AFNOR, CEN-CENELEC, SAC-China, SIS, INTERTEK, COTECNA) the National Bureau of Standards and Certification Bodies have taken leadership role to offer, free of charge, the necessary standards and guidelines for the manufacture, testing and certification of the PPEs. Many ARSO members (Cameroon/ANOR –12 standards; Kenya/KEBS – 14 Standards; Morocco/IMANOR-  3 Standards and Various Conformity Assessment Activities; South Africa/SABS – 24 standards; Uganda/UNBS – 8 Standards; Tanzania/TBS – 4 Standards; Malawi/MBS – 4 standards; Egypt/EOS 27 Standards) have submitted to the Central Secretariat their published standards on COVID -19 interventions, and available at https://www.arso-oran.org/standards-for-covid-19/. Like in many ARSO member States  which are running COVID-19 based Conformity Assessment Programmes, the Intertek in particular runs a PROTEK Programme which is an end-to-end health, safety and wellbeing assurance programme for people, workplaces and public spaces, offering audits, training, inspection, verification and certification solutions.

With about 27 African Standards in different stagers (9 ARS, 4 FDARS, 4CD, 13 WD), including ARSO FDARS 1470: 2019 Hand Sanitizers (alcohol based) – Specification, ARSO has expedited the Standards approval for medical and pharmaceutical products, and urged the African NSBs to make medical standards freely available and create customs ‘Green Lanes’ for super-fast clearance of medical supplies to help mitigate the virus and ensure people have access to the safe, essential products they rely on. In consideration of the role of African Traditional Medicine in stopping the COVID-19, ARSO has published the African Traditional Medicine Policy Document to guide the Development and implementation of ATM Standards for COVID-19 and for handling such pandemics in future.

The COVID-19, therefore, provides an opportunity for standards comparison and harmonisation, which is also correspondingly growing, with a need for new collaborative initiatives and rapid implementation of the necessary interventions in a timely manner and at the appropriate scale slow down save lives and live hoods, while minimizing economic, public and social impacts. The call therefore for effective Quality Infrastructure at the national, regional and Continental levels (with effective Quality Policies) in Africa as per the directives already laid out in various Continental and International policies, including the Abuja Treaty, The Lagos Plan of Action and currently, the AfCFTA Protocol (TBT Annex 6 and SPS Annex 7), as well as the WTO TBT/SPS Agreements, is underlined to strengthen Africa’s resilience and capacity, to deal with such pandemics in future.

The Webinar

Objective of the Webinar

The Main objective is to offer a platform for discussion on the Standardisation interventions against the COVID-19 among the ARSO members.

Specific Objectives

  1. Understanding the role of Standardisation in the fight against COVID-19 Pandemic
  2. Indicating various standards used by various ARSO members
  3. Underlining the role of African Traditional Medicine in the fight Against COVID-19
  4. Initiating new standardisation collaborative initiatives and programmes for timely and necessary interventions
  5. Facilitating standardisation cooperation among the ARSO members on COVID-19
  6. Sharing of Experience on the covid-19 standardisation activities among the ARSO member States
  7. Highlighting challenges and possible solutions on standards and conformity Assessment activities by the ARSO Members in the mitigation of COVID-19

Outputs of Webinar

  1. Presentations and list of Standards and Conformity Assessment activities for the interventions of COVID Standards
  2. Discussions and Comments on the standardisation interventions and experiences on COVID-19
  3. Report of Webinar

Outcomes of Webinar

  1. Clear understanding on role of standards and Conformity Assessment in offering solutions to the COVID-19
  2. Best Conformity Assessment practices on the COVID-19 Pandemic.
  3. Insight on COVID-19 standards identification, comparison and harmonisation initiatives
  4. Strategies and solutions on standards and conformity Assessment activities for mitigation of COVID-19
  5. Private Sector participation and Support for the COVID-19 Standardisation initiatives

Impact

  1. Safe and Quality essentisl Products (face masks, sanitizers, safe water and soaps, medical gloves, clinical electrical thermometers, medical waste management and disposal) for the management of the COVID-19.
  2. Mechanisms and strategies to bolster Africa’s resilience, through standardistion, to respond to future pandemics, such as COVID-19, to save lives and livelihoods.
  3. Impetus for the need of effective Quality Infrastructure at the national, regional and Continental levels (with effective Quality Policies) in Africa as per the directives already laid out in various Continental and International policies, including the Abuja Treaty, The Lagos Plan of Action and currently, the AfCFTA Protocol (TBT Annex 6 and SPS Annex 7).

Mode of Presentation

  • Speakers from the ARSO member States may prepare brief slides of no more than 5 minutes to guide the discussions. The presentations will be projected by the ARSO Secretariat. Kindly forward the presentations early enough. The webinar will focus more on discussions. Speakers are requested to forward detailed notes to be used for reporting purposes.

Audience: ARSO Membership and Stakeholders

The International Youth Day – 12th July 2019 on “Transforming Education” : The Role of Standardisation in Youth Empowerment

Standards are the invisible architecture of markets, manufacturing, technology, health care, Education and trade, and controls, entirely, the industries and every sector of life on a global scale. Reflections on the benefits of the ARSO Youth Programmes @ Education about Standardisation, The Yearly Standardisation Essay Competitions for African Universities, Standardisation Seminars and Workshops;  in reference to the UN Theme of International Day of the Youth on 12th August 2019 – “Transforming Education”, which highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all Youth.

Africa has the youngest population in the world with more than 400 million young people aged between the ages of 15 to 35 years. https://au.int/en/youth-development.

As the African continent undergoes profound demographic changes characterised by declining fertility and child mortality rates and rapid population growth, the prospects of emulating the Asian countries and harnessing the demographic dividend, to ignite its full potential to stimulate sustainable socio-economic development, have excited many African leaders. With a population of estimated to increase from about 1.2 billion people to 2.2 billion people between 2015 and 2050, and with 41% of the people in the continent being below 15 years old while another 19% are youth between 15 and 24 years old, Africa considerably is a Youthful continent (AFIDEP 2019). Such a youthful population calls for an increase of investment in economic and social development factors, in order to improve the development index of African nations. One of the ways to do this is through education. This resonates with the theme of 2019 theme of the International Youth day celebrated on 12th July 2019, “Transforming Education”, which highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth, including efforts by youth themselves, which is crucial to achieving sustainable development. Besides, The AU has developed several youth development policies and programmes at continental level aimed at ensuring the continent benefits from its demographic dividend. The policies include the African Youth Charter, Youth Decade Plan of Action, and the Malabo Decision on Youth Empowerment, all of which are implemented through various AU Agenda 2063 programmes.

ARSO joins the World in honoring the International Youth Day, celebrated on 12th August 2019 under the theme, “Transforming Education”, which highlights efforts to make education more relevant, equitable and inclusive for all Youth. Education is a development multiplier which plays a pivotal role in accelerating progress across all sectors of life, and more so in achieving 17 Sustainable Development Goals, be it poverty eradication, good health, gender equality, decent work and growth, reduced inequalities, action on climate or building peaceful societies. The role of standardisation in all these cannot be overemphasized, as standards are the invisible architecture of markets, manufacturing, technology, health care, Education and trade, and controls, entirely,  the industries and every sector of life on a global scale, providing the essential building blocks for sustainable economic, political and social networks and development.

The increased reference to standardisation as a regulatory instrument in Africa by Political actors, Economists and Industrialists, and the bold step which are being undertaken by the standardisation stakeholders and Partners in Africa, such as the development of Pan African Quality Policy, in the context of the Abuja Treaty of 1991, can only be coherently maintained with sufficient standardisation expertise in the Socio-economic and political realms and as a means of enhancing research and innovation.  These highlights the definite need for standards expertise, hence the ARSO African Standardisation Education Programme initiative.

The ARSO Standards Education Programme targets to equip the African Youth with the knowledge about the role of standardisation in sustainable development and is geared towards scaling up the initiatives which have been developed and launched in many African countries, so that, public authorities, industry, Quality Infrastructure Institutions and the academia/educational institutions are aware about the benefits of education about standardization and agitate for the inclusion of Standardisation Education Programmes in the national Education systems, based on a continental Master plan, which aims at stimulating dialogue and improving its quality and attractiveness for all stakeholders.

Fish Trade in Africa: Review of Trade Regimes and Standardization Needs for Trade Facilitation

Socio-Economic Significance of Fisheries in African Countries

Background

It is acknowledged that Africa’s participation in global fish trade is fairly limited at approximately 4.9 % and slid to being a net importer from 2011 (FAO, 2014). While UNCTAD (2013) puts official intra-African trade at an average of 11 % from 2007 to 2011, intra-African trade in fish was reported to be 24 % between 2010 and 2012 (FAO, 2014). WTO (2014) cites cotton, coffee and fish as being agricultural commodities with export potential for Africa. In addition, fisheries have the great potential to generate more food and nutrition security benefits and help to achieve other societal objectives such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment or promoting sustainable fisheries management. Since more trade tends to be associated with faster economic growths, expanding fish trade opportunities for small-scale fishers and fish farmer may help raise incomes and achieve sustainability of the African fisheries resources, which in return would further sustain the natural wealth of the continent.

Underlining the importance of Agriculture and Food Security, the theme of the Twenty Third Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, from 26-27 June 2014, was phrased: “Transforming Africa’s Agriculture for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods through Harnessing Opportunities for Inclusive Growth and Sustainable Development, also marking the tenth Anniversary of the Adoption of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP)” (AUC, 2014). It was during this 23rd Session that the Heads of State and Government made the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods (Assembly/AU/ /Decl.1(XXIII). Among the commitments made in the declaration, African Member States committed to end hunger in Africa by 2025 through accelerating agricultural growth by at least doubling productivity levels by 2015 by among other things facilitating sustainable and reliable production and access to quality and affordable inputs (for crops, livestock, fisheries, amongst others) through, among other things, provision of “smart‟ protection to smallholder agriculture.
The Summit also endorsed the landmark Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa (AUC-NEPAD, 2014) which was formulated with the main purpose of facilitating coherent policy development for the sustainable management of fisheries and aquaculture resources in the member states of the African union. Abbreviated as PFRS, the document provides for the guidelines on how countries should better capture the wealth of fisheries, reduce poverty, increase food and nutritional security and ensure equitable distribution of the benefits particularly for the poorest, marginalized and most vulnerable in society, such as women. It provides a framework for guiding the development and benchmarking of sustainability standards and certification for fisheries in Africa in order for the standards to convey a true message of sustainability which is reflected in the improved productivity of fisheries and aquaculture as well as enhanced contribution of fish to sustainable food and nutritional security, economic wellbeing of fishing communities and aquaculture stakeholders, environmental and biodiversity conservation, efficient, effective and transparent governance and improved national incomes.

Fisheries Contribution in African Economies and Livelihoods
It is acknowledged that Africa’s participation in global fish trade is fairly limited at approximately 4.9 % and slid to being a net importer from 2011 (FAO, 2014). While UNCTAD (2013) puts official intra-African trade at an average of 11 % from 2007 to 2011, intra-African trade in fish was reported to be 24 % between 2010 and 2012 (FAO, 2014). WTO (2014) cites cotton, coffee and fish as being agricultural commodities with export potential for Africa. In addition, fisheries have the great potential to generate more food and nutrition security benefits and help to achieve other societal objectives such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment or promoting sustainable fisheries management. Since more trade tends to be associated with faster economic growths, expanding fish trade opportunities for small-scale fishers and fish farmer may help raise incomes and achieve sustainability of the African fisheries resources, which in return would further sustain the natural wealth of the continent.
Many African countries are endowed with fish resources from oceans, seas, lakes, rivers, floodplains and fish farms, which generate a range of benefits including food and nutrition security, livelihood, exports and biodiversity. Africa produced a total of 9.9 million tonnes of fish in 2010, of which 2.7 million (1/3) came from inland fisheries, 1.49 million tonnes from aquaculture and the rest from marine capture fisheries (FAO, 2014). The value provided by the fisheries sector as a whole in 2011 was estimated at more than US$24 billion, representing 1.26% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of all African countries, with aquaculture producing an estimated value of almost US$3 billion per year (de Graaf & Garibaldi, 2014).
Furthermore, fisheries sector as a whole employs 12.3 million people as full-time fishers or full-time and part-time processors, accounting for 2.1% of Africa’s population of between 15 and 64 years old. Of these employed, almost half were fishers; 42.4% were processors and 7.5% were engaged in aquaculture. Women are heavily involved in the fish sector, accounting for about 27.3% of the total workforce in fisheries and aquaculture, and they are directly involved in fishing (3.6 %), processing (58%), and aquaculture (4%). With regard to food and nutrition security, fish is very important source of animal protein, accounting for an average of around 5% of total protein FAO (2014). Per capita consumption of fish in Africa was reported to be 9.7 kg per year; lower than the world average (18.9 kg/year); with some countries (Congo, Gabon, Liberia, Malawi and South Africa) experiencing stagnant or declining per capita FAO (2014).

The Launch of the Fish Trade Program

While endorsing the AU Policy Framework and Reform Strategy for Fisheries and Aquaculture in Africa in the 23rd Session of AU Heads of State and Government (HSG) Summit, the African leaders also committed themselves to “accelerate trade by developing fish value chains, promoting responsible and equitable fish trade and marketing in order to significantly harness the benefits of Africa’s fisheries and aquaculture endowments”. In this respect, the HSG adopted a number of strategies, including to:

  • simplify and formalize the current trade practices;
  • fast-track the establishment of Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and transition to a continental Common External Tariff (CET) scheme;
  • increase and facilitate investment in markets and trade infrastructure;
  • promote and strengthen platforms for multi-actors interactions; and
  • strengthen and streamline the coordination mechanism that will facilitate the promotion of African common position on agriculture-related international trade negotiations and partnership agreements.

In response to the high level political commitment by African Union to fish trade development, the Fish Trade Program (Improving Food Security and Reducing Poverty through intra-regional Fish Trade in sub-Saharan Africa) was launched and is being implemented jointly by WorldFish, NEPAD Agency and AU-IBAR.
The Fish Trade Program aims to improve food and nutritional security and reduce poverty in sub-Saharan Africa by enhancing the capacities of regional and pan-African organizations to support their member states to better integrate intra-regional fish trade into their development and food security policy agendas. The Program will work in four corridors in Africa (Western, Southern, Eastern and Central); and will deliver on the following results:
(i) Generate information on the structure, products and value of intra-regional fish trade in food security in Sub Saharan Africa and make it available to stakeholders.
(ii) Come up with a set of recommendations on policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations, and get them well embedded in national and regional fisheries, agricultural, trade and food security policy frameworks in sub-Saharan Africa.
(iii) Enhance the capacities for trade amongst private sector associations, in particular of women fish processors and traders and aquaculture producers, to make better use of expanding trade opportunities through competitive small and medium scale enterprises; and
(iv) Facilitate adoption and implementation of appropriate policies, certification procedures, standards and regulations by key stakeholders participating in intra-regional trade in the four trade corridors.
1.4 The Context of ARSO’s Involvement
Within the African continent, there has been continued focus on the role of agriculture and food production in resolving multiple dimensions of the continent’s challenges such as food insecurity, malnutrition, ravaging poverty, gender inequalities, rural underdevelopment, lack of industrialization, climate change uncertainties, increasing trade deficits and import bills, unemployment and a host of other challenges preoccupying leaders across the continent.
From 2012 ARSO has been implementing its Strategic Plan which is aligned to the implementation of the African Union (AU) priorities and programmes as expressed in various AU instruments such as the following:

(i) Assembly/AU/Decl.7 (II): the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security (AUC, 2003) endorsing the establishment of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), its flagship projects and evolving Action Plans for agricultural development, at the national, regional and continental levels; and consequently agreeing to adopt sound policies for agricultural and rural development, and committing Member States to allocating at least 10% of national budgetary resources for their implementation within five years;

(ii) Ex/Assembly/AU/Decl. 1 (II): the Sirte Declaration on Agriculture and Water (AUC, 2004), geared toward addressing the challenges in implementing integrated and sustainable development on agriculture and water in Africa; and in respect to fisheries and aquaculture, committing Member States to promote the development of fishery resources, develop fishing methods and equipment, improve facilities for their preservation, storage, distribution and processing, and encourage regional cooperation in the field of fishing, including the protection of fishery resources in our exclusive economic zones; and to promote intra-African trade in agricultural and fishery products in order to correct discrepancies in food balances at both national and regional levels, and explore the use of new methods to settle payments for trade;

(iii) the Abuja Declaration on Fertilizer for the African Green Revolution: Africa Fertilizer Summit: African Union Special Summit of the Heads of State and Government (AUC, 2006a). The declaration notes the importance of developing quality control standards for both organic and inorganic fertilizers. The declaration advocates for the increase in the use of fertilizers from 8 kilograms per hectare in 2006 to at least 50 kilograms per hectare by 2015;

(iv) FS/Decl (I): Declaration of the Abuja Food Security Summit (AUC, 2006b); that Member States shall increase Intra-African trade by promoting and protecting rice, maize, legumes, cotton, oil palm, beef, dairy, poultry and fisheries products as strategic commodities at the continental level, and cassava, sorghum and millet at sub-regional level without prejudice to focused attention being given also to products of particular national importance; and AUC and NEPAD shall facilitate the attainment of continental self-reliance by 2015 for the following: rice, maize, sorghum/millet and cassava, oil palm, beef, poultry, aquaculture (tilapia/cat fish); and to process 50% of cotton produced in Africa by 2015 while also making efforts to rapidly increase the share of local processing for other commodities;

(v) FS/Res (I): Resolution of the Abuja Food Security Summit (AUC, 2006c); urging Member States to ratify and implement harmonized standards and grades including sanitary and phytosanitary standards within and across RECs by 2010

(vi) Assembly/AU/Decl.2 (XI): Sharm El-Sheik Declaration on Responding to the Challenges of High Food Prices and Agriculture Development by among other things committing to reduce by half the number of undernourished people in Africa by 2015, eradicate hunger and malnutrition in Africa and take all necessary measures to increase agricultural production and ensure food security in Africa, in particular through the implementation of AU-NEPAD CAADP and the 2003 AU Maputo Declaration (AUC, 2008a).

(vii) AU/MIN/CAMI/3(XVIII): Strategy for the Implementation of the Plan of Action for the Accelerated Industrial Development of Africa (AIDA): Eighteenth Ordinary Session of the Conference of African Ministers of Industry (CAMI) (AUC, 2008b). Under AIDA, the CAMI Bureau and UNIDO have identified agro-food processing as one of the priority sectors with good prospects for successful growth alongside other sectors such as: chemicals and pharmaceuticals, minerals, textiles/garments, leather/leather products, forestry, fisheries, and equipment/machinery and related services.

(viii) Assembly/AU/Decl.2(XIII) Rev.1: Sirte Declaration on Investing in Agriculture for Economic Growth and Food Security where the Member States undertook to support relevant policy and institutional reforms that will stimulate and facilitate accelerated expansion of agriculture related market opportunities by modernizing domestic and regional trading systems, removing obstacles to trans-border trades, and increasing access by smallholder farmers to inputs and the necessary commercial infrastructure and technical skills to fully integrate them into the growing value chains (AUC, 2009).

(ix) Assembly/AU/Decl (2010): Abuja Declaration on Development of Agribusiness and Agro-industries in Africa: High-level Conference on Agribusiness and Agro-industries (A3DI) which, among other things, undertakes to promote the building and harmonization of standards as a quality tool in the production, processing, storage and marketing of agro-products and urges Member States to promote and support the African Regional Standards Organization (ARSO) in the harmonization of industrial standards, grades and metrology for the promotion of regional and international trade (AUC, 2010).

(x) Joint Declaration of Ministers of Agriculture and Ministers of Trade on endorsing the Boosting of Intra-Africa Trade as a Key to Agricultural Transformation and ensuring Food and Nutrition Security (AUC, 2012).
The World Bank (WB, 2012) notes that Africa’s farmers have the capacity to produce enough food to feed the growing population especially in the expanding urban centres, there are disincentives arising from the fact that African farmers face more barriers in accessing the inputs they need and in getting their products across borders to consumers in African cities, than suppliers from the rest of the world. These barriers along the whole value-chain reduce returns to farmers while increasing prices paid by consumers. Removing these barriers to regional trade is essential if Africa is to attain its potential in food trade. Harmonizing standards and codes of practice across African countries can provide a clear and predictable policy framework for regional trade so that institutions that facilitate exchange and mitigate the inherent risks associated with food production can flourish and support efficient and safer market outcomes and a more effective approach to food security in Africa. It is further emphasized that African commodities can be the basis for industrialization if non-tariff barriers, sanitary and phyto-sanitary barriers and technical barriers to trade, especially for agricultural commodities are eliminated by the concerted efforts of the continent’s institutions and Member States (UNECA & AUC, 2013).