What are the harmonized African standards for the automotive sector all about?

Image Courtesy of Mobius Motors

Introduction

The African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) and the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) have developed a collaboration framework to harmonize standards and conformity assessment in order to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), boost intra-African Trade and contribute to African industrialization as key pillars of Africa’s Agenda 2063.

Among the first areas of collaboration, AFREXIMBANK and ARSO have identified the automotive sector as a catalytic area that will spur the core 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.

One of the major actions is that ARSO has convened technical meetings of the ARSO/TC 59 on Automotive Technology and Engineering to serve as the platform for the harmonization of standards for the automotive sector in Africa.

NSBs nominated two suitable experts, one from the national standards body and one expert from the manufacturing sector with appropriate qualifications matching the scope of the Technical Committee to participate in the harmonization of standards for the automotive sector including formulation of workshop agreements, review of international standards for adoption and handle the harmonization work of the identified preliminary new work items.

Current situation

According to (Madden, 2020), the European Union, Japan and the United States exported 14 million used vehicles worldwide- 40percent of which entered the African continent. The high demand for these vehicles was attributed to their low prices and the absence of a sizeable middle-class population. However, there is a major trade-off for the low cost. A new wave of dynamism among African policymakers and business communities is expected with key renewable technologies falling in prices and giving lee-way to innovation and growth since, these imported used vehicles are often of poor quality and are highly susceptible to failing roadworthiness tests in the exporting countries (UNEP, 2020). 

Consequently, these vehicles contribute to air pollution which hampers efforts to combat climate change. In fact, emissions from these vehicles are a major source of small particulates and nitrogen oxides which are responsible for urban pollution (Africa Business, 2020). 25 percent of energy-related greenhouse emissions across the globe are caused by vehicles. As a result, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals in the continent is slowed down. According to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), it is evident that these imported vehicles are not only environmental hazards but also a leading cause of road accidents within the continent (UNEP, 2020). It is unfortunate that Africa has the highest road traffic fatality rates where about 250,000 people die annually. By 2030, the number is projected to rise to 514,000 according to the World Health Organization (World Health Organization, 2020).

The other key problem facing Africa is the provision of not only modern but also affordable, sustainable and reliable energy. This is a pivot point in the achievement of the Africa we want, through the Agenda 2063 strategic framework.

It is therefore crucial that there is not only vehicle homologation but also a well implemented quality management system which plays a key role in ensuring the proper tests are done on the imported and manufactured vehicles to confirm that these vehicles are still in good states.

In Africa, road transport dominates in most countries as it covers 80-90% of the passenger and freight traffic (Export-Import Bank of India, 2018). According to the World Bank, it is estimated that the continent carries out trade worth up to US$200 billion annually. In Africa, most rural areas depend completely on roads for connectivity. Unfortunately, the road density across Africa per person and square kilometer is much lower compared to other regions (UNECA, 2009). However, there is need to adequately manage and utilize the available road systems.

Furthermore, a major challenge is observed in Africa’s industrialization. It is likely that the lack of structural change during the economic expansion since 2000 will slow down the rate of future growth (Black, Makundi, & McLennan, 2017). In Africa, the automotive industry is relatively sophisticated, but there is need to constantly attract investment into parts of the sector which are more in line with the progress of lower income countries. The sub-Saharan Africa is expanding its market rapidly although there is still a $16.3 billion deficit in the sector. Despite being well endowed with adequate raw materials, there is still a large underutilization of these resources. Africa countries are now leaning towards more manufacturing rather than import of vehicles (Schiller & Pillay, 2016).

In lieu of this, the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO) with support of the African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), has been committed to ensuring that the Africa we want through the Agenda 2063 is achievable by coming up with harmonized standards that directly affect the automotive sector. The following listed standards have been harmonized through the ARSO Technical Committee (ARSO TC 59) on Automotive Technology and Engineering of which membership is composed of experts from 17 ARSO member states: (1) DR. Congo, (2)Egypt, (3)Ghana, (4)Kenya, (5)Madagascar, (6)Malawi, (7)Mauritius, 8.Namibia, (9)Nigeria, (10)Rwanda, (11)Seychelles, (12)Sierra Leone, (13)South Africa, (14)Tanzania, (15)Zambia, (16)Zimbabwe and (17)Zanzibar as an observer member.

African Standards (ARS) Harmonised by the TC 59

  1. ARS 1355-1:2020, Vehicle Standards — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 1: Roadworthiness of vehicles already in use
  2. ARS 1355-2:2020, Vehicle Standards — Specification for vehicle roadworthiness — Part 2: Roadworthiness of vehicles prior to entry into service and thereafter
  3. ARS 1355-3:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 3: Supporting information
  4. ARS 1355-4:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 4: Requirements for vehicle examiners
  5. ARS 1355-5:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 5: Requirements for testing equipment
  6. ARS 1355-6:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 6: Requirements for combinations of vehicles
  7. ARS 1357:2020, Vehicle test station evaluation — Code of practice
  8. ARS 1362-2020, Automotive Fuels—Unleaded Petrol-Requirements and test methods
  9. ARS 1363-2020, Automotive Fuels—Diesel—Requirements and test methods
  10. ARS 1370:2020, Transportation of dangerous goods by road
  11. ARS 1379-2020, Definitions and classifications of power-driven vehicles and trailers
  12. ARS 1371:2020, Cross border road transport management system (XB-RTMS)
  13. ARS 1595:2020 Vehicle homologation – All Categories

International Standards recommended for adoption by Member States

  1. ISO/IEC 18013-1:2018, Information technology — Personal identification — ISO-compliant driving licence — Part 1: Physical characteristics and basic data set
  2. ISO/IEC 18013-2:2020, Information technology — Personal identification — ISO-compliant driving licence — Part 2: Machine-readable technologies
  3. ISO/IEC 18013-3:2017, Information technology — Personal identification — ISO-compliant driving licence — Part 3: Access control, authentication and integrity validation
  4. ISO/IEC 18013-4:2019, Personal identification — ISO-compliant driving licence — Part 4: Test methods
  5. ISO 3779:2009, Road vehicles — Vehicle identification number (VIN) — Content and structure
  6. ASTM D4950:2019, Standard classification and specification for automotive service greases
  7. EN 13012:2012, Petrol filling stations — Construction and performance of automatic nozzles for use on fuel dispensers
  8. EN 15293:2018, Automotive fuels — Automotive ethanol (E85) fuel — Requirements and test methods
  9. EN 15376:2014, Automotive fuels — Ethanol as a blending component for petrol — Requirements and test methods
  10. EN 16709:2015+A1:2018, Automotive fuels — High FAME diesel fuel (B20 and B30) — Requirements and test methods
  11. EN 16734:2016+A1:2018, Automotive fuels — Automotive B10 diesel fuel — Requirements and test methods
  12. EN 589:2018, Automotive fuels — LPG — Requirements and test methods
  13. ISO 4925:2020, Road vehicles — Specification of non-petroleum-based brake fluids for hydraulic systems
  14. ISO 4926:2006, Road vehicles — Hydraulic braking systems — Non-petroleum-base reference fluids
  15. SAE J 2227:2019, Global tests and specifications for automotive engine oils
  16. SAE J1616:2016, Standard for Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel
  17. SAE J1616:2017, Recommended Practice for Compressed Natural Gas Vehicle Fuel
  18. SAE J1703:2019, Motor vehicle brake fluids
  19. SAE J310:2005, Automotive lubricating greases
  20. SAE J357:2016, Physical and Chemical Properties of Engine Oils
  21. UNECE 100:2013 Rev. 2, Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles with regard to specific requirements for the electric power train
  22. UNECE R 052RV3:2008, Uniform provisions concerning the approval of M2 and M3 small capacity vehicles with regard to their general construction
  23. UNECE R 110 concerning Uniform provisions concerning the approval of: I. Specific components of motor vehicles using compressed natural gas (CNG) and/or liquefied natural gas (LNG) in their propulsion system II. Vehicles with regard to the installation of specific components of an approved type for the use of compressed natural gas (CNG) and/or liquefied natural gas (LNG) in their propulsion system
  24. UNECE R 115 concerning Uniform provisions concerning the approval of: I. Specific LPG (liquefied petroleum gases) retrofit systems to be installed in motor vehicles for the use of LPG in their propulsion system II. Specific CNG (compressed natural gas) retrofit systems to be installed in motor vehicles for the use of CNG in their propulsion system
  25. UNECE R 136 concerning Uniform provisions concerning the approval of vehicles of category L with regard to specific requirements for the electric power train
  26. .
  27. UNECE Regulation No 107 Uniform provisions concerning the approval of category M2 or M3 vehicles with regard to their general construction
  28. UNECE Regulation No. 36:2008. Rev. 3, Uniform provisions concerning the approval of large passenger vehicles with regard to their general construction
  29. UNECE-R146_Regulation on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Vehicles of category L

These first 13 standards are discussed in-depth within this article:

Six parts of the ARS 1355 on Roadworthiness

ARS 1355 Part 1: Vehicle Standards — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 1: Roadworthiness of vehicles already in use

It identifies the requirements for the examination and testing for roadworthiness of all motor vehicles within territories and across borders. It covers key aspects on emissions, leaks, compressed natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas and liquefied natural gas propulsion systems as well as electric and hybrid systems.

ARS 1355-2:2020, Vehicle Standards — Specification for vehicle roadworthiness — Part 2: Roadworthiness of vehicles prior to entry into service and thereafter

It specifies the design safety requirements for used road vehicles prior to the date of entry into service and when operating on a public road. It however does not cover special requirements or concessions for certification of fitness for operations across the borders.

ARS 1355-3:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 3: Supporting information

This standard provides information intended to support the vehicle examiner and test stations using other parts of the specification.

ARS 1355-4:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 4: Requirements for vehicle examiners

It contains information that is useful in the selection and appointment of vehicle examiners, their duties, their training and ongoing updating of vehicle examiners.

ARS 1355-5:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 5: Requirements for testing equipment

This standard contains information on the selection and installation of the testing equipment needed to test the roadworthiness of vehicles in accordance with the requirements for the range of defined test lane classes that comprise the defined vehicle testing station categories.

ARS 1355-6:2020, Road vehicles — Specification for Vehicle Roadworthiness — Part 6: Requirements for combinations of vehicles

This provides specifications of methods applicable to be used in and the extent of, the examination of motor vehicles that are subjected to a roadside assessment for roadworthiness bylaw enforcement officers. It is mainly intended for application by heavy vehicles or combinations of heavy vehicles that exceed 3500 kg at a roadside inspection or whilst the vehicle is standing idle at a weigh station, customs post or similar and shall be used as a walk-around visual check.

ARS 1357:2020, Vehicle test station evaluation — Code of practice

Since the continent is gearing towards manufacture of vehicles within its boundaries, there was need to have a standard which governs vehicle testing station evaluation. p ARS 1357:2020 provides the best code of practice for such a station. The standard applies for principal grades of vehicle testing. They include grade A, B and C. There is a detailed organization of the Vehicle Test Station from the management representative, to field of application and methods and policy documentation. The standard also provides the structure of the quality management system which governs the quality documentation and control of the documentation within the test station. The review of the quality management system is detailed within the standard too.

ARS 1362-2020, Automotive Fuels—Unleaded Petrol-Requirements and test methods

This standard specifies 2 types of unleaded petrol where one has a maximum oxygen content of 3.7% (m/m) and maximum ethanol content of 10.0% (v/v). The other one is intended for use by older vehicles which are unwarranted to use unleaded petrol with a high biofuel content. This has a maximum oxygen content of 2.7% (m/m) and maximum ethanol content of 5.0% (v/v).

The standard also provides tables with values that are the limits specified. Also, there are some climatically dependent requirements and test methods such as water tolerance and volatility requirements which have been discussed in-depth within the standard.

ARS 1363-2020, Automotive Fuels—Diesel—Requirements and test methods

This is a standard that specifies the requirements and the test methods for marketed and delivered automotive diesel fuel. It is applicable to automotive diesel fuel for use in diesel engines. For the general requirements and related test methods, the diesel is expected to be within the limits specified in the tables provided in the standard. Diesel fuel shall also be free from any adulterants or contaminants which may render the fuel unacceptable for use in diesel engine vehicles.

ARS 1370:2020, Transportation of dangerous goods by road

This standard provides a harmonized common standard which governs the transport of classified goods by road in Africa. It ensures that all participants abide by the same rules which ultimately leads to safe operation and safety of the society. Within the standard, matters concerning administrative measures and exemptions on dangerous goods are addressed in-depth. The standard further provides a classification on dangerous goods. Some of the classifications provided in the standard include class 1 which covers explosives, class 2 covers gases, classes 3 and 4 cover flammable liquids and solids respectively while class 6 deals with toxic and infectious substances. Radioactive material is classified in class 7, while corrosive substances are in class 8. Finally, all miscellaneous dangerous substances and articles like environmentally hazardous substances are in class 9. For packing purposes of these substances, there are some packing groups which are designed to cover products of high, medium and low danger. There is a provision in the standard which describes dangerous goods and provides some special provisions applicable for road transportation of the goods. In addition, the standard covers the various security measures and precautions which should be taken to minimize theft or misuse of the goods that may endanger persons, property or the environment. All the requirements for the responsible parties to which safety obligations are assigned are also identified within the standard.

The standard clearly indicates the design and construction requirements for the vehicles to be used in the transport of the dangerous goods and the emergency information systems that can be put in place such as marking containers and placarding. The necessary requirements for packaging for road transport as well as the standards and specifications for vehicles and equipment are identified in the standard.

This standard is applicable for use by all private and national sectors across the continent which are involved in the transport of dangerous goods across borders via road.

ARS 1371:2020, Cross border road transport management system (XB-RTMS)

This standard, as others, is a voluntary self-regulation scheme which encourages the cross-border transport operators to implement a Road Transport Management System across the borders. The system described in the standard is expected to not only preserve the road infrastructure but also improve road safety. Besides, it prioritizes the vehicle roadworthiness, ensures responsible driving behavior, promotes driver health and wellness, fosters skill development, optimizes efficiency and complies with the respective border and regulatory requirements. The implementation of the standard is key in ensuring efficient and safe transport is achieved across the continent. The transport operator is at liberty to develop the most appropriate processes, systems and measurement methods which will adequately demonstrate compliance to the standard.

The standard provides general requirements concerning fleet inventory and its requirements, documentation. There is also a provision of requirements for load assessment and verification such as the methods to assess the vehicle mass before any laden trip. It further addresses matters on road safety, maintenance of roadworthy vehicles, as well as vehicle and load safety. Under vehicle and load safety, the standard addresses how best to monitor crashes, incidents as well as insurance claims. Driver health and wellness is also covered within the standard together with the various documents required to adequately implement and monitor the performance of the standard. Finally, the standard provides the border and regional requirements since there is an increased flow of goods and globalization of trade across the continent.

ARS 1379-2020, Definitions and classifications of power-driven vehicles and trailers

This is a standard that defines and classifies all wheeled vehicles, equipment and parts which can be used on the wheeled vehicles. The standard classifies power driven vehicles and trailers into Category L which are motor vehicles with two, three and four wheels. The category L vehicles is sub-categorized into L1 to L7. These sub-categories are based on the weight, number of wheels, and the size of engine. Moreover, there is category M which are power driven vehicles that have at least four wheels and used for carriage of passengers. Under category M vehicles, M1 M2 and M3 are classified according to the number of passengers and maximum mass they can ferry. Category N, which covers power-driven vehicles that have at least 4 wheels and are used for carriage of goods provides room for categories N1, N2 and N3 which are determined by the weight these vehicles can ferry. Meanwhile, Category O is a provision for trailers and semi-trailers which are classified further into O1 O2 O3 & O4 depending on the weight they can carry. The standard also defines special purpose vehicles such as hearses, agricultural vehicles under categories T, R and S. Off-road vehicles are also defined within the standard.

ARS 1595:2020, Vehicle homologation – All Categories

This standard is critical for motor vehicles categories which are not previously registered in any country. It does not cover vehicles designed and constructed for use in construction sites, military services, mobile machinery, prototypes or motor sport competition. The standard details the administrative requirements highlighting in specific administrative measures, application forms, declaration of conformity and the various provisions of E-Certificates or test reports. Within the standard, the provision of a vehicle sample which precedes issuance of a certification of homologation is discussed. Technical requirements to be adhered to for the various categories of vehicles are highlighted in this standard.

Benefits of adopting these standards!

  • Although real trade among ratified countries has commenced under the AfCFTA agreement, it is crucial that countries adopt harmonised standards so as to ensure that road worthy vehicles are imported into their borders. This will go a long way in ensuring that we minimize the carbon emissions in the continent which will lead to environmental preservation. Besides, adhering to the specifications will significantly lower the death toll caused by road accidents attributed to unroadworthy vehicles. As a result, achieving the Africa we want through the agenda 2063 will come closer to being a reality.
  • Standards vehicle testing facilities as well as vehicle manufacturers and importers. With these standards in place and with real trade commencing under the AfCFTA, there will be less technical barriers to trade due to the harmonization of the standards.
  • Standardization of the automotive fuels is set to deliver business and environmental benefits in Africa. By adhering to the limits set in the standards, there will be a significant reduction in the carbon-footprint within the continent and this will help in environmental conservation and reduction in global warming (Schiller& Davies, 2018). Also, having a single guide in Africa on the automotive fuel specifications will help synchronize the systems and adequately facilitate real trade between African countries especially with the commencement of real trade in January 2021 through the AfCFTA.
  • The application of the standards for transportation of dangerous goods will promote safe handling of dangerous goods, human health, plant health and animal health generally benefit from the application of this standard.   
  • Last but not least, the harmonised standard for vehicle homologation will facilitate the Private to gain legal access to target markets and to generate higher revenues, ensure rapid and safe delivery of products to consumers, alleviate costly penalties and fines for non-compliance or costly recalls of rejected products and boost brand reputation among consumers and regulators by ensuring vehicle safety.

Who can use these standards?

Depending on the type of activity, these specifications can be used by fuel processing companies within the continent, road transport operators, vehicle manufacturers and assemblers, law enforcement officers, vehicle examiners, and national regulators across the continent.

ARSO announces a Collaboration Agreement with AOAC INTERNATIONAL

The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and AOAC INTERNATIONAL announced today that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding establishing a strategic partnership to advance food safety and security in Africa.

MoU Signed between ARSO and AOAC International

ARSO is Africa’s intergovernmental standards body, formed in 1977 by the African Union and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. Its mandate is to develop tools for standards development, standards harmonization and implementation to enhance Africa’s internal trading capacity, increase Africa’s product and service competitiveness globally, and uplift the welfare of African consumers. It also serves as a standardization forum for future prospects in international trade referencing.

ARSO is a signatory to the World Trade Organization’s Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) agreement and is an active observer member of the TBT Committee in its work toward harmonization, equivalence and mutual recognition arrangements for agriculture and food products.

Contaminated food continues to cause numerous devastating outbreaks in the African region, and food safety related problems still account for almost 2,000 fatalities on the continent daily. The World Health Organization reports that foodborne hazards are responsible for 137,000 deaths and 91 million acute illnesses in Africa every year, mostly affecting children under the age of five.

The 2018 formation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which includes 54 of the 55 African Union nations and requires members to remove tariffs from 90 percent of goods, is bringing a rapid increase in trade of food. But it is also creating challenges due to enormous disparities in food testing infrastructure. In some countries, labs are well equipped, using advanced techniques and international official reference methods. In others, labs are struggling to achieve basic proficiency.

While increased trade and closer economic cooperation between developing countries represent a considerable potential for development, realizing this potential presents a major challenge especially in terms of an effective continental standardization infrastructure.

In 2018, at the inaugural meeting of the newly formed AOAC INTERNATIONAL Sub-Saharan Africa Section, scientists identified a set of recommendations to advance development and harmonization of analytical methods, including prioritizing validated analytical methods for traditional African foods, public-private dialog on food safety capacity building, and collaboration with regional stakeholders such as ARSO.

Since then, the AOAC Sub-Saharan Africa Section has established itself as a key player in the region and has been invited to collaborate with numerous pan-African quality infrastructure organizations such as ARSO and the Intra-African Metrology System.

“AOAC INTERNATIONAL can play a critical role in providing technical and scientific advice on analytical testing standards, especially for many of the local food commodities now being traded beyond national borders, and within the 39 member States of ARSO,” said ARSO Secretary-General, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana. “This collaboration agreement is a significant step to realizing these goals.”

Cooperation between the two organizations will include areas such as conformity assessment regimes in traditional African foods; capacity building; peer reviews and idea exchange; and development and harmonization of standards in foods and beverages, dietary supplements, and infant formula, industrial chemicals and fertilizers.

The agreement also envisions development or expansion of laboratory proficiency testing to include regionally specific commodities and their reference materials. In addition to jointly promoting awareness among policy makers and governments on the need for standardization such as Performance Tested Methods and infrastructure, the agreement establishes a forum for joint public-private high-level dialog including webinars and training.

“AOAC’s Official Methods of Analysis are respected worldwide and can be used with confidence by industry, regulatory agencies, research organizations, testing laboratories, and academic institutions,” said Erin Crowley, President of AOAC INTERNATIONAL. “We look forward to working with ARSO to expand our stakeholder network in Africa while increasing use and improving access of AOAC Official Methods across the African Continental Free Trade Area.”

Morocco formalises its membership in ARSO


The AfCFTA Agreement, for which, the Kingdom of Morocco is a signatory and ratifying Sate Party, calls on all State parties, under the TBT Annex 6, article 6, f, to promote membership, liaison and participation in the work of ISO, IEC, ARSO, AFSEC and similar international and regional standardisation organisations. 

The AfCFTA Agreement under TBT Annex 6, Article 4, sets to (a) facilitate intra-African trade through cooperation in the areas of standards, technical regulation, conformity assessment, accreditation and metrology; and urges State parties, under Article 5, to cooperate in the development and implementation of standards, technical regulations, conformity assessment procedures, accreditation, metrology, capacity building and enforcement activities in order to facilitate trade within the AfCFTA, and as well, under Article 6 (b), to promote the adoption of standards developed by the ARSO and the AFSEC. It is acknowledged that seamless flow of goods and services under the AfCFTA requires harmonised standards and Conformity Assessment. Already, in Africa, the volume and complexity of technical regulations and the variation in certification, testing, inspection practices and standards used by different African countries and RECs continue to pose an impediment to intra-African trade and cooperation among African countries in the harmonisation the African standards, by Experts from all African countries, remains a key requirement, within the AfCFTA Agreement.

Having signed the ARSO Membership Documents, including the ARSO Membership Instrument of Accession and the ARSO Constitution ratification form in February 2021, the Kingdom of Morocco has finally completed all requirement as ARSO member on 17th March 2021. This comes at a crucial moment when the African countries have started real trade with each other, on 1st January 2021, under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The Kingdom of Morocco will formally be admitted to the ARSO Membership during the 26th ARSO General Assembly scheduled for 16th June 2021. The Total Membership of ARSO currently standards at 39 African Countries, and all African Union are expected to attain ARSO membership as provided by the AfCFTA agreement TBT annex 6

ARSO Officially Launches the 2020-2021 Standardisation Essay Competition

Started officially in 2013, the Annual ARSO Continental Standardisation Essay Competition is aimed at empowering the African Youth to understand the role and importance, as well as the benefits of standardisation in facilitating sustainable development in Africa. The Essay Themes are based on the Yearly African Union Themes. For this year, the theme approved by the 63rd ARSO Council in its virtual meeting on 26th November 2020 is “The role of Standardisation in promoting Arts, Culture and Heritage – The Creative Economy in Africa.” The theme is based on the AU 2021 theme as Arts, Culture, and Heritage. On 13-14 October 2020, the AU officially declared the Year 2021 as The AU Year of the Arts, Culture, and Heritage and adopted the theme for 2021 as “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Levers for Building Africa We Want”. The UN had also in 2019,  under RESOLUTION 74/198 (A/C.2/74/L.16/Rev.1 – E – A/C.2/74/L.16/Rev.1 -Desktop (undocs.org)) on International Year on Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021, adopted, by consensus, declared 2021 the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.   Under this declaration, the UN encourages all parties to acknowledge the potential contribution of creative economy sectors to achievement of the sustainable development goals, and underscores that, 2021 marks the right moment for all stakeholders, including governments, private sectors, civil society, international organizations, academics, and cultural and creative entities to work together, exchange knowledge and experiences, build networks, and scale up collaboration (UNCTAD 2018).

Already under the Nairobi Plan of Action on Cultural and Creative Industries in Africa 2005, the African Union is calling on its member States to establish standardization and quality assurance mechanisms to ensure competitiveness and marketability of African cultural goods and services. ARSO under its ARSO TC 77 on Creative Economy is aiming to harmonise African Standards and Conformity Assessment systems to facilitate the production and trade in the creative Industry in Africa. UNESCO (2015) at its 38th session of the General Conference, declared May 5, the African World Heritage Day to promote African Heritage.

Growing in breadth, economic share, and innovation, the Cultural and Creative Industries have great potential to accelerate socio-economic change across Africa and is among the most dynamic sectors in the world economy providing new opportunities for developing countries to leapfrog into emerging high-growth areas of the world economy. The global market for creative goods has expanded substantially more than doubling in size from $208 billion in 2002 to $509 billion in 2015, and continues to make a significant contribution to world trade (UNCTAD, 2018,).

The UN eencourages all to observe the year in accordance with national priorities to raise awareness, promote cooperation and networking, encourage sharing best practices and experiences, enhance human resource capacity, promote an enabling environment at all levels as well as tackle the challenges of the creative economy. 

Recognitions and Awards for the Essay Winners will be held in June 2021 during the 26th ARSO General Assembly events, the African Day of Standardisation.

ARSO Signs MoU with AOAC – Association of Official Analytical Collaboration (AOAC) INTERNATIONAL

Dr. Hermogene N.

18th February 2021 –  ARSO, represented by the Secretary General, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, left, has signed an MoU with Association of Official Analytical Collaboration (AOAC) INTERNATIONAL. The MoU is a follow-up to thediscussions, deliberations and recommendations of the AOAC INTERNATIONAL Sub-Saharan Africa Section Inaugural Meeting, that took Place from 5-7 November 2018 at The Farm Inn Hotel in Pretoria, South Africa, and which recommended among other things, the need for, establishing technical/ capacity building collaboration agreements with key stakeholders in the region such as ARSO and AFRIMETS.  The MoU will facilitate the harmonization and implementation of analytical performance standards and conformity assessment procedures in the field of agriculture and food safety, to support government regulatory policies and favourable integration into regional and international markets, especially promoting trade of safe agricultural products within the African Single Market under the AfCFTA.

David B. Schmidt

(AOAC) INTERNATIONAL (https://www.aoac.org) is a 501(c)(3), independent, third party, not-for-profit association and voluntary consensus standards developing organization dedicated to serving the analytical community in laboratory capacity building, conformity assessment, method validation, and promotion of globally accepted testing standards.  AOAC INTERNATIONAL provides a forum for government, industry, and academia to collaboratively establish standard method performance requirements and official methods of analysis that ensure the safety and integrity of foods and other products that impact public health around the world. AOAC INTERNATIONAL, facilitates science-based solutions through the development of performance standards and Official Methods of Analysis (chemical and microbiological) for a broad spectrum of safety interests including, but not limited to, food and food ingredients; beverages; dietary supplements; infant formula; animal feeds; fertilizers; soil and water; and, veterinary drug residues.  AOAC consensus standards and Official Methods of Analysis are routinely approved by the Codex Committee on Methods of Analysis and Sampling (CCMAS) for adoption of methods as CODEX international standards which are used globally to promote trade and to facilitate public health and safety. David B. Schmidt (right), the Executive Director, represented AOAC.

ARSO Signs MoU with Fair Trade Africa

3rd February 2021, Nairobi, Kenya, Fair Trade Africa Office

ARSO and the Commerce Equitable Afrique, trading as Fair-Trade Africa (FTA), and Headquartered in Nairobi has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on 3rd February 2021, with the main objective to establish a framework within which to jointly explore and coordinate such undertakings to build strong and resilient producer Organisations and work cooperatively towards increasing sustainable and ethical production and consumption across Africa. The focus is to facilitate intra-African Trade and global trade through providing and facilitating the implementation of harmonised standards and improving livelihoods of small holder farmers and workers in the plantations. The two Parties have undertaken to promote and advance the use of standards and support sustainable agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, aquaculture, food security and socially inclusive busines and community development.

Fairtrade Africa was established in 2005 and is the independent non-profit umbrella organisation representing all Fairtrade certified producers in Africa. Fairtrade Africa is owned by its members, who are African producer organisations certified against international Fairtrade standards producing traditional export commodities such as coffee, cocoa, tea, cotton, bananas, mango and non-traditional commodities including shea butter and rooibos tea. Currently, the organisation supports over 500 producer organisations and represents over one million small holder farmers and workers across 32 countries in Africa, ensuring they get better prices, decent working conditions and fairer terms of trade.’

The two Organisations both run Eco labelling programmes and having benchmarked the Eco labels in 2018.

ARSO through the ARSO Conformity Assessment Procedure (ACAP) has developed rules and procedures for its Certification operations in nine schemes that include sustainability and eco-labelling that awards the Eco mark label to products and services complying with requirements to the African sustainability standards.

Launched on 8th March 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya Eco Mark Africa is a programme in ARSO that promotes the EMA Ecolabel in Africa for sustainably produced goods and services in the Agriculture, Aquiculture, Fisheries, forestry and tourism sectors. It also builds capacity of Auditors, certification bodies, laboratories and producers of goods and services in the above sectors. The programme integrates, the concepts of environmental, social and economic sustainability and is a useful tool for promoting sustainable production and consumption of goods and services as well as addressing various sustainable development goals, including the mitigating the climate action in Africa, while ensuring the production of eco-friendly African products for better regional and global market access. The certification is based on the ARSO Sustainability and Ecolabelling standards: ARS/AES 01 – 2014: Agriculture, for the sustainable production, processing and trading of agricultural products; ARS/AES 02- 2014: Fisheries – for the sustainable harvesting of fish as well as addressing the Ecosystem issues; ARS/AES 03 – 2014: Forestry- for sustainable management of forests; ARS/AES 04 – 2014: Tourism- for sustainable management of tourism, while promoting Eco Tourism and environmental conservation. This in addition to the ARS/AES 1:2014 – Aquaculture and ARS/AES 1:2014 Tilapia.

8th Continental Essay Competition – 2021

8th Continental Essay Competition for the year 2021

Theme: “The Role of Standardisation in promoting Arts, Culture and Heritage – The Creative Economy in Africa

University and College Students under the age of 35 years eligible to participate

The Competition aims to have 3 categories of winners: the National, Regional and Continental. In this regard, ARSO is requesting all the National Standards Bodies (NSBs) in Africa to organise the competition at the National level and send out the attached documents (8th Continental Essay Concept Paper and Registration Form) to the various Universities /Colleges for the competition. The NSB is expected to conduct the competition at the National level. This entails sending out the relevant documents to Colleges/ Universities, receiving the essays from the participants, doing the assessment and awarding or giving recognition to the winners as appropriate to the NSB.

The organizers are inviting students in institutions of higher learning in Africa (Colleges/ Universities approved by their local commission of higher education) to submit their essays on the theme: “The Role of Standardisation in promoting Arts, Culture and Heritage – The Creative Economy in Africa.” to their respective National Standards Bodies (NSBs) email addresses. (Confirm with your respective NSBs on the submission dates)

Download the Documents Below…



7th Continental Essay Competition

7th Continental Essay Competition for the year 2019 / 2020

Theme: “The role of Standardisation in resolving and addressing the socio-economic issues for the Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons and creating durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa”

University and College Students under the age of 35 years eligible to participate

The Competition aims to have 3 categories of winners: the National, Regional and Continental. In this regard, ARSO is requesting all the National Standards Bodies (NSBs) in Africa to organise the competition at the National level and send out the attached documents (7th Continental Essay Concept Paper and Registration Form) to the various Universities /Colleges for the competition. The NSB is expected to conduct the competition at the National level. This entails sending out the relevant documents to Colleges/ Universities, receiving the essays from the participants, doing the assessment and awarding or giving recognition to the winners as appropriate to the NSB.

The organizers are inviting students in institutions of higher learning in Africa (Colleges/ Universities approved by their local commission of higher education) to submit their essays on the theme: “The role of Standardisation in resolving and addressing the socio-economic issues for the Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons and creating durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa” to their respective National Standards Bodies (NSBs) email addresses. (Confirm with your respective NSBs on the submission dates)

Download the Documents Below…



The Role of Quality Infrastructure in Facilitating Industrialization and Sustainable Development in Africa

AFRICA INDUSTRIALISATION WEEK

16 – 20 NOVEMBER 2020 (VIRTUAL)

Inclusive and sustainable industrialization in the AfCFTA ERA

ARSO-AUC BREAKOUT SESSION

The Role of Quality Infrastructure in Facilitating Industrialization and Sustainable Development in Africa

17TH NOVEMBER 2020, 12:30HRS – 15:00HRS, NAIROBI TIME

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

AIW-2020-Brochure

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/)