The role of Standards in in Promoting the Implementation of the SDGs in Africa

The SDGs in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, according to UNCTAD Policy Brief No. 6 of 2015, will form the development paradigm from 2016 to 2030. Of the 17 SDGs, goal 17 includes trade-related targets, two of which specifically call for enhancing the export performance of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), in which:

  • 17.11: Significantly increase the exports of developing countries, in particular with a view to doubling the LDCs’ share of global exports by 2020.
  • 17.12: Realize timely implementation of DFQF market access on a lasting basis for all LDCs consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) decisions, including by ensuring that preferential rules of origin applicable to imports from LDCs are transparent and simple, and contribute to facilitating market access.

On a wider Scale, various Authors and Experts (Dr. Sarwar Hobohm, UNIDO; Robert H. Allen, 2000; Utterbac J.M., 1994; Uwe Miesner, 2009;  Christina Tippmann- World Bank, 2013; UNCTAD 2015; Farahat, 2015; unido, 2006; Eoin O’Sullivan, 2012; Ramachala, 2013; COMESA (Cheelo et al., 2012); EAC (Karingi et al., 2016; KAM, 2017); ECOWAS & UEMOA (de Roquefeuil, 2013; Laski et al., 2014); SADC & SACU (Edwards et al., 2008; Cheelo et al., 2012); AfCFTA (UNECA, 2018); Japanese Industrial Standards Committee, 2005;  Fiona Stokes, 2011; BSI,  Standards matter to consumers, How standards benefit us all, every day ;  USAID, 2016; UNIDO 2016; ISO 2014, Economic Benefits of Standards; Jae-Yun Ho, 2013;  ARSO, 2013, Benefits of Standards)  have highlighted the crucial role of Standards in promoting trade and Sustainable Development.

  • In expanding trade, in particular, standards and technical regulations are essential for market access. Standards (voluntary) and technical regulations (mandatory) define what goods and services can and cannot be exchanged, and outline procedures under which such exchanges are and are not permissible. Standards define how products, processes, and people interact with each other and their environments. They enhance competitiveness by offering proof that products and services adhere to requirements of governments or the marketplace. When used effectively, they facilitate international trade and contribute to technology upgrading and absorption.
  • Globally relevant standards make it easier for many companies’ particularly small and medium enterprises to get their products certified and on the shelves in countries around the world, allowing them to take part in global value chains, benefit from technology transfer, and compete on a more equal footing. Similarly, nations that incorporate harmonised standards into their policies and regulations allow their citizens access to a wider selection of high-quality goods, while also providing protection against dangerous or faulty products and services.
  • The provision of Standards contributes to economic growth by increasing the volume of trade, and promoting innovation through the dissemination of research and technology. Standards help companies to reduce costs and increase the quality of the goods and services they produce.  They allow companies to develop new markets for existing goods and services, as well as create new goods and services for existing markets.
  • Standards enhance product reputation and provide for lesser market risks for companies introducing products to the market. Standards provide a vital link to global trade, market access and export competitiveness, enhance product reputation and provide for lesser market risks and simplify large-scale production processes thus reduce costs.
  • Standards help in developing the market for products and services based on the newest technologies. Companies that participate actively in standards work have a head-start on their competitors in adapting to market demands and new technologies, and enjoy reduced research risks and development costs.
  • When used effectively, standards play an important role in global trade, contributing to technology upgrading and absorption, and protecting consumers and the environment. Minimum quality and safety standards allow consumers to assess the quality or safety of a product before purchasing it and enable regulators to exclude unsafe products from the market.
  • Adherence to widely recognized international or inter-company standards can help the sectors, which earlier had been segmented by variable standards, to enjoy economies of scale by reducing conformity assessment costs and increasing output due to the emergence of new potential customers.

Standards are used to codify the technical characteristics and market preferences for products and processes, facilitating knowledge absorption and technological change. Standards ensure safer, healthier, more environmentally sound and market-ready products, improved quality and reliability, better operational compatibility between products, greater consistency in the delivery of services, easier access to and greater choice in goods and services, better product information, suitable products for vulnerable populations, lower costs and greater competition hence lower prices for consumers

Analysis of ARSO Standardisation Work in respective of the SGDs

THC 02: Agriculture and Food Products : Improving Agricultural productivity in Africa

Standardisation in the field of agricultural products, human and animal foodstuffs as well as animal and vegetable propagation materials, in particular terminology, sampling, methods of test and analysis, product specifications, agricultural and food safety management systems, agro-food processing, agro-food trade systems, requirements for packaging, traceability, storage and transportation, agricultural inputs and agricultural machinery.

SDGs: 1, 2, 3, 10, 12

THC 03: Building and Civil Engineering   Improving Sustainable Urbanisation and Human Dwellings in Africa
Harmonization and sustainability in the field of building, construction and civil engineering works for standards or products related to wood technology, concrete, reinforced concrete and pre-stressed concrete; cement and lime, timber, steel and aluminum structures, non-conventional building materials and other local materials in Africa. It also covers the development of technical specifications, technical reports and guidelines within the field of the committee. It excludes the development of design codes.

SDG’s 3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11

THC 04: Mechanical Engineering and Metallurgy.   Improving Sustainable Manufacturing and Industrialisation in Africa  
Scope: Mechanical Engineering and Metallurgy Standards shall cover: Mechanical systems and components for general use; Fluid systems and components for general use; Manufacturing engineering; Materials handling equipment; Metallurgy.  

SDG’s 1, 8, 11, 17

THC 05: Chemistry and Chemical Engineering   Improving Sustainable Manufacturing and Industrialisation in Africa  
ScopeChemical technology- Glass and ceramics; Rubber and plastic; Paper technology; and Paint and colours among others.  
SGD’s 1, 3, 8, 9, 17
THC 06: Electrotechnology   Improving Sustainable Energy Production in Africa.  
Standardisation in the fields of electrical engineering; power engineering; renewable energy technologies; rural electrification; electronics; telecommunications and audio and video engineering; information and communications technology and office machines.    
SDG’s 1, 3, 5, 7, 8, 9, , 17
THC 07: Textiles and Leather Improving Sustainable Manufacturing and Industrialisation in Africa    
Textiles and leather technology including products in their value chains. For textiles, this include: Cotton production: Standards for cotton fibres (lint), bales, cottonseed; textile manufacturing: Standards for yarns, fabrics, netting; apparels: Standards for clothing, garments, shirts; household furnishings: Standards for carpets, curtains; industrial textiles: standards for ropes, geotextiles, etc. For leather technology, this include: good practices for recovery of hides and skins; guidelines on tanning procedures; specifications for leather products: footwear, upholstery, garments, bags, and other accessories.
SDG’s 1, 5, 8, 9, 10,
THC 08: Transport and Communication Improving Sustainable Infrastructure, Structural transformation, Cities and Industrialisation in Africa  
Transport services: road, water, rail, air, etc.; Road vehicles engineering; Railway engineering; Shipbuilding and marine structures; Aircraft ground operations; Packaging and distribution of goods; etc.; Multi-modal transport and communication services.  The scope is in line with the objectives of the AU Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA)
SDG’s 1, 3, 8, 9, 11, , 17
THC 09: Environmental Management   Improving Sustainable Environmental Management in Africa    
Environmental protection with regards to air, water and soil quality including environmental management systems and impact assessments. Environmental labelling, performance evaluation and life cycle assessment based on sustainability standards. Health and safety considerations, Socioeconomic considerations  
SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17
THC 10: Energy and Natural Resources Improving Sustainable Environmental, Energy development and Natural Management in Africa  
Energy and heat transfer engineering; Mining and minerals; Solid mineral fuels; Petroleum and related technologies; Forestry resources; Renewable biomass-based energy resources; Bioenergy and related products.
SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17
THC 11: Quality Management Improving Sustainable Business and Trade in Africa.    
Quality management and quality assurance concepts, terminologies, quality systems and supporting technologies in all sectors of industry, production, trade and services.
SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 17
THC 12: Services   Improving Sustainable Services Development in Africa.    
General Service level standards; Finances, Banking, Monetary systems, Insurance Financial services; Healthcare services; Beauty, wellness services and premises; Applications of cosmetics; Trade facilitation: Processes, data elements and documents in commerce, industry and administration; Sociology: Demography (Market, opinion and social research. Product recall); Leisure: Tourism and related services; Education: Learning services for non-formal education and training; Psychological assessment; Project Management: Facilities management; Anti-counterfeiting tools: Fraud countermeasures and controls; Patents: Intellectual property.  
SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 16, 17
THC 13: African Traditional Medicine Improving Sustainable Health care in Africa.  
Quality and safety of African Traditional Medicine (ATM) to facilitate regional and international trade with an initial focus on: terminology, raw material, test methods, processed products specifications and sustainable practices  
SDG’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 12, 13, 17.