AFREXIM Bank set to fund the Harmonisation of Standards to Facilitate Intra-African Trade and Development of Pan-African Quality Infrastructure


The African Export-Import  (AFREXIM) Bank in partnership with  Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)  has funded a project on the introduction of Pan-African Quality Policy (PAQP) with support from African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), African Union Commission (AUC), Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and other Pan-African Quality Infrastructure (PAQI) Pillars namely African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC), Intra-Africa Metrology Systems (AFRIMETS) and African Electro-technical Standardization Commission (AFSEC) with an aim of facilitating African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

This policy, in regards to the 1991 treaty that established African Economic Community will ensure that member states;

(a) Adopt a common policy on standardization and quality assurance of goods and services.

(b) Undertake such other related activities in standardization and measurement systems that are likely to          promote trade, economic development and integration within the Community; and

(c) Strengthen African national, regional and continental organizations operating in this field.

In many African countries, there is evidence of lack of clarity on the roles of institutions involved in the setting and implementation of standards and technical regulations, they need to be synchronized and work closely to facilitate free movement of goods and services. There aren’t enough accredited laboratories nor inspection bodies and this is a major problem that faces many African countries in their efforts to expand and diversify their export bases.

Notably, most technical regulation regimes of African countries are non-compliant with WTO-TBT and SPS Agreement requirements and this constitutes a major impediment to industrialization and trade. It is important to note that the technical regulation regime and a country’s national quality infrastructure go hand in hand and therefore systematic streamlining is required in order for coordination and efficiency to be achieved.

This Joint effort sponsored by AFREXIMBANK and PTB and spearheaded by the African Union and ARSO will fulfil the AEC Treaty and AfCFTA requirements mainly Technical Barriers to Trade and Sanitary and Phytosanitary annexes (TBT & SPS) which are essential tools in promoting efficiency in all facets of Africa’s integration agenda. It will be adopted by member states with an aim of being at par in matters quality.

In addition to the Pan-African Quality Policy (PAQP), African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) will harmonize standards in the automotive sector and conformity assessment. This initiative is fully funded by the African Export-Import (AFREXIM) Bank in partnership with and African Union Commission (AUC) in a bid to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and boost intra-African Trade while contributing to African industrialization as key pillars of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

The automotive sector is essential and will cause an uproar in the automotive industry (vehicle and parts makers) and support a wide range of business segments, both upstream and downstream, along with adjacent industries. This leads to a multiplier effect for growth and economic development across many sectors in the continent. The key concerns with respect to the automotive industry in Africa include the following

(i)   Restrictions of manufacturing while regulatory frameworks encouraging importation.

(ii)  Safety of motor vehicles

(iii) Availability of quality fuels for modern engine technologies

(iv) Availability of certified component/spare parts: Regional automotive value chains have not developed to a significant extent.

(v)  Manufacturing capabilities.

Factors to be considered with regards to AfCFTA include Elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to widen the markets for the automotive industry, local manufacturing/assembly with value addition which meets the rules of origin in the AfCFTA, creating a reliable network of automotive component and spare parts suppliers to service customer needs, harmonization of standards for fuels, parts and environmental performance in line with international agreements and lastly construction of motor vehicles meeting established safety standards to create confidence among Member States.

ARSO will convene meetings of the ARSO/THC 08-4, Technical Working Group on Automotive Technology and Engineering to serve as the platform for the harmonization of standards for the automotive sector in Africa. NSBs will nominate two suitable experts (one internally and another from the manufacturing sector) with appropriate qualifications matching the scope of the Working Group to participate in the harmonization of standards including formulation of workshop agreements, review of international standards for adoption and also handle the harmonization work of the listed preliminary new work items during the first meeting to be held in June 2019. The scope of the working group will revolve around Road vehicles, tyres, rims & valves, Caravans, Electric road vehicles and electric industrial trucks with a vast collection of standards to be harmonized.

Harmonization of the automotive standards will play a big role in the economic development of the African automotive sector through elimination of trade barriers among the member states hence allowing free movement of automotive goods with quality on check. The project has a timeline of one year from the date of countersigning (April 2019).