African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP)

African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP)

In 2012, ARSO carried out a desk review on the implementation of its founding mandate and the pending work obligations emanating from the Decisions, Resolutions and Declarations of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its successor the African Union which came into being following the promulgation of the Constitutive Act of the African Union in July 2000. The review was carried out taking into account the changing landscape in the quality infrastructure composition in the continent and globally. In the African continent, in addition to ARSO, three other bodies in the quality infrastructure had been established as follows:

The Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS) was formed in 2006 with membership drawn from the African Sub-regional Metrology Organizations (“SRMO”). The main mandate of AFRIMETS is to promote the development of scientific, industrial and legal metrology issues across Africa and to operate as a fully-fledged Regional Metrology Organization (RMO), in accordance with the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM). The membership of AFRIMETS is per country. Each country is represented by the national metrology institute responsible for Scientific & Industrial metrology and the organization responsible for Weights and Measures (or Legal Metrology Bodies, LMBs) and thus has two votes. Member countries that are signatories to a SRMO are called Principal members and member countries not part of a SRMO, Ordinary members. NMIs and LMBs outside Africa can become Associate members. Other organisations with an interest in AFRIMETS can become Observers. In addition to the goal to develop accurate, internationally accepted measurement capabilities, a main focus of the 45-member country institutions is to provide measurement and testing capabilities needed for a continental free trade area (CFTA).

The African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC) was established in February 2008, having legal status in accordance with Article 24 of the Convention of the African Energy Commission, through declarations of the Conferences of African Ministers of Energy. AFSEC’s mission is in the fi elds of standards and conformity assessment systems for electricity, electronics and related technologies. With the prime aim of improving access to electricity for African populations, it is responsible for:

  • Identification of existing standards and prioritization of the needs for standards in Africa
  • Harmonizing existing standards either through the adoption of international standards or where necessary their adaptation to African conditions
  • Promoting appropriate conformity assessment systems to assess and improve the quality of electrical products and services

AFSEC is recognized by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) through a cooperation agreement signed in 2009. It has formal cooperation agreements with the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and cooperation agreements within the field of electrotechnical standardization with several national standards bodies. AFSEC members are National Electrotechnical Committees (NECs), one per African member state. Affiliate members are drawn from African Power Pools, and other regional and continental structures.

The African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) was established in 2010 and is a cooperation of accreditation bodies, sub-regional accreditation cooperation and stakeholders. The mission of AFRAC is to cooperate in building capacity in African accreditation with the goal of sustaining an internationally acceptable mutual recognition. The main objective of AFRAC is to provide accreditation support to industry and trade and to contribute to the protection of health and safety of the public and the protection of the environment, in Africa and thereby improve Africa’s competitiveness.

In ARSO’s review of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community also known as the Abuja Treaty of 3rd June 1991, which entered into force on 12th May 1994, the following provisions of the Treaty were outstanding:

CHAPTER XI: STANDARDISATION AND MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS

Article 67: Common Policy on Standardisation and Measurement Systems

1.      Member States agree to:

(a)        Adopt a common policy on standardisation and quality assurance of goods and services among Member States;

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

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

2.      For the purposes of this Chapter, Member States agree to cooperate in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol concerning Standardisation, Quality Assurance and Measurement Systems.

ARSO Secretariat concluded that there was need for the following policy documents to be developed and get approved through the relevant African Union structures:

  • General National Quality Policy for African Countries
  • General Technical Regulations Framework for African Countries
  • Criteria for classification and identification of NTBs in Africa

ARSO Secretariat also reviewed the mandate of the organisation and concluded as follows:

(a)        Operationalize the ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) as laid out in the documents developed in 1991 while reviewing some of its operations in relation to the current and evolving conformity assessment landscape in Africa and globally;

(b)        Establish the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO) with the following mandate:

(i)         Vocabulary and general and specific principles of conformity assessment.

(ii)        Guides and technical specifications suitable for use in all aspects of conformity assessment, e.g.: testing and calibration laboratories, proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons, inspection bodies and activities, product certification bodies and activities, management system audit and certification bodies and activities, personnel certification bodies and activities, marks of conformity, accreditation, peer assessment and mutual recognition of conformity assessment results.

(ii)        Permanent and operational documents for conformity assessment schemes.

(iv)       Rules for, and decide on, the admission of Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories

(v)        Operating procedures and general matters linked with peer assessment.

(vi)       Operating procedures linked with factory inspections.

(vii)       Rules for the use of test facilities of Manufacturers’ Test Laboratories.

(viii)      Test Report Forms (TRFs).

(ix)       All other activities that the ARSO Council deems necessary for the good management and development of ARSO-CERT bearing in mind the aspirations of the continental integration agenda.

(c)        Establish the ARSO Consumer Committee (ARSO COCO) which was to identify standardization areas of priority interest to consumers and work to promote and coordinate consumer representation in those areas. This was to be achieved through:

  • Representing, promoting and protecting African consumer interests in national, RECs and African standards.
  • Involving consumers in standards development activities by providing African representation to the international community of consumer specialists for issues of consumer policy
  • Encourage the representation of the African consumer interest in the creation of technical regulations.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information and experience on standards and conformity assessment issues of interest to African Consumers.
  • Providing information on how standardisation benefits consumers and how consumers can contribute to standards development.
  • Mobilise African consumer body to participate in international standards setting

Following the meeting of the 48th ARSO Council meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 17th to 18th June 2013, the ARSO Council approved the following:

  • ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) as the African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP)
  • ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO)
  • ARSO Consumer Committee (ARSO COCO)

In addition, ARSO had adopted the African Eco-Labelling Mechanism which arose from the declaration of the 12th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) in its Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development in Africa calling upon the ‘Commission of the African Union, Governments and all stakeholders to work together to ensure the development and implementation of an African ecolabelling mechanism based on African experiences and lessons’ (June 2008). The African 10 Year Framework Programme (10-YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) was one of the key activities that had been facilitated by UNEP as part of the follow-up on Johannesburg Plan of Implementation that was endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and was officially launched at a High-level launch session that was jointly organized by the African Union (AU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UNEP and was held in May 2006. It was decided, among other things that:

  • In parallel with the preparation for the first meeting of the Executive Board, UNEP and AUC will work with ARSO and the Marrakech taskforce on Cooperation with Africa on developing a programme document that will be used for mobilizing the required funding for the Mechanism.
  • With the convening of the First Executive Board meeting of AEM, the African Union Commission, through ARSO, will assume the lead responsibility of managing the mechanism while UNEP and UNECA will continue to provide the technical back-up support.

The Partnership with standard bodies in Africa was seen to be crucial and it was felt that the AEM Secretariat should work closely with ARSO and the African Union on ensuring the support on national standard bodies for its activities, hence the decision by AU to host the AEM Secretariat at ARSO Central Secretariat.

In June 2008, at a Pre-session of the 12th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Midrand South Africa, AMCEN in its Conclusions and Recommendations, No. 5, supported the hosting of the AEM by the ARSO:

“The Proposed launching of the African Ecolabelling Mechanism (AEM) under the general Guidance of the African Union Commission and with a Secretariat based at the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) is believed to contribute towards improving the environmental and social profile of African products and expand market access for African Products”.

The 17th ARSO General Assembly held at the Red Court Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, 3rd December 2010, under its resolution 8b on African Ecolabelling Mechanism (AEM) Directed ARSO through National Standards Bodies to develop an African Ecolabelling standard based on climate change, environment, quality and sustainability as a basis for the AEM. Subsequently, four sector working groups were established: Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Tourism and through their deliberations under the guidance of the African Standards Harmonization Model developed by ARSO, the first four standards corresponding to the sectors were approved in November 2014.

At a Consultative Meeting of the Stakeholders of African Eco-labelling Mechanism held on 1st June 2016 at the Africana Hotel, Kampala, Uganda, emphasized that a proposed way forward should ensure that the original objectivity of AEM is maintained, that the mechanism is not a product of one institution and that the set up should ensure inclusivity and involvement of all relevant stakeholders – for a successful AEM, and Agreed that:

(1)        AEM will transform to the Eco Mark Africa programme under ARSO Council, but operationalizing as an independent process within the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee and the current EB of AEM now ceases to exist.

(2)        ARSO Council will be informed of this decision to establish EMA programme under ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee.

(3)        GIZ will hand over the IP of the Eco Mark Africa to Africa by transferring the IP to ARSO for its operationalization

The 54th ARSO Council meeting held from 20th – 21st June 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania, Eco-Mark Africa was formally absorbed within the African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP). In parallel, in 2016, ARSO had initiated the review of the ACAP documentation including the development of certification schemes to operationalize certification. This included designing of the Certification System, with identification of the specific certification schemes and technical Standards to be applied in the different industry sectors. This included incorporating the Certification Scheme D on Sustainability and Eco-labelling. The first full set of the ACAP documents were completed in 2018 with the full participation of the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee and approved by the 58th ARSO Council meeting in Durban, South Africa on 18th June 2018.

After the Council approval, ARSO Secretariat kicked off the piloting of the ACAP actualization by contracting Det Norske Veritas (Norway) and Germanischer Lloyd (Germany) (DNV-GL) to create awareness among target firms and NSB certification bodies and building their capacity to undergo certification or licensing. DNV-GL, on behalf of ARSO Secretariat, assessed the Certification bodies for their capacity to conduct audits with respect to the four standards on sustainability and eco-labelling. Among the 10 certification bodies participating, two managed to qualify within the set time limits: Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).

KEBS and SAZ assessed a wide range of firms between 2018 and early 2019. The EcoMark Africa (EMA) label was officially launched on 8th March 2019 with the award of seven companies for qualifying products.

African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP)

In 2012, ARSO carried out a desk review on the implementation of its founding mandate and the pending work obligations emanating from the Decisions, Resolutions and Declarations of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) and its successor the African Union which came into being following the promulgation of the Constitutive Act of the African Union in July 2000. The review was carried out taking into account the changing landscape in the quality infrastructure composition in the continent and globally. In the African continent, in addition to ARSO, three other bodies in the quality infrastructure had been established as follows:

The Intra-Africa Metrology System (AFRIMETS) was formed in 2006 with membership drawn from the African Sub-regional Metrology Organizations (“SRMO”). The main mandate of AFRIMETS is to promote the development of scientific, industrial and legal metrology issues across Africa and to operate as a fully-fledged Regional Metrology Organization (RMO), in accordance with the Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) of the International Committee for Weights and Measures (CIPM). The membership of AFRIMETS is per country. Each country is represented by the national metrology institute responsible for Scientific & Industrial metrology and the organization responsible for Weights and Measures (or Legal Metrology Bodies, LMBs) and thus has two votes. Member countries that are signatories to a SRMO are called Principal members and member countries not part of a SRMO, Ordinary members. NMIs and LMBs outside Africa can become Associate members. Other organisations with an interest in AFRIMETS can become Observers. In addition to the goal to develop accurate, internationally accepted measurement capabilities, a main focus of the 45-member country institutions is to provide measurement and testing capabilities needed for a continental free trade area (CFTA).

The African Electrotechnical Standardization Commission (AFSEC) was established in February 2008, having legal status in accordance with Article 24 of the Convention of the African Energy Commission, through declarations of the Conferences of African Ministers of Energy. AFSEC’s mission is in the fi elds of standards and conformity assessment systems for electricity, electronics and related technologies. With the prime aim of improving access to electricity for African populations, it is responsible for:

  • Identification of existing standards and prioritization of the needs for standards in Africa
  • Harmonizing existing standards either through the adoption of international standards or where necessary their adaptation to African conditions
  • Promoting appropriate conformity assessment systems to assess and improve the quality of electrical products and services

AFSEC is recognized by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) through a cooperation agreement signed in 2009. It has formal cooperation agreements with the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) and cooperation agreements within the field of electrotechnical standardization with several national standards bodies. AFSEC members are National Electrotechnical Committees (NECs), one per African member state. Affiliate members are drawn from African Power Pools, and other regional and continental structures.

The African Accreditation Cooperation (AFRAC) was established in 2010 and is a cooperation of accreditation bodies, sub-regional accreditation cooperation and stakeholders. The mission of AFRAC is to cooperate in building capacity in African accreditation with the goal of sustaining an internationally acceptable mutual recognition. The main objective of AFRAC is to provide accreditation support to industry and trade and to contribute to the protection of health and safety of the public and the protection of the environment, in Africa and thereby improve Africa’s competitiveness.

In ARSO’s review of the Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community also known as the Abuja Treaty of 3rd June 1991, which entered into force on 12th May 1994, the following provisions of the Treaty were outstanding:

CHAPTER XI: STANDARDISATION AND MEASUREMENT SYSTEMS

Article 67: Common Policy on Standardisation and Measurement Systems

1.      Member States agree to:

(a)        Adopt a common policy on standardisation and quality assurance of goods and services among Member States;

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

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

2.      For the purposes of this Chapter, Member States agree to cooperate in accordance with the provisions of the Protocol concerning Standardisation, Quality Assurance and Measurement Systems.

ARSO Secretariat concluded that there was need for the following policy documents to be developed and get approved through the relevant African Union structures:

  • General National Quality Policy for African Countries
  • General Technical Regulations Framework for African Countries
  • Criteria for classification and identification of NTBs in Africa

ARSO Secretariat also reviewed the mandate of the organisation and concluded as follows:

(a)        Operationalize the ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) as laid out in the documents developed in 1991 while reviewing some of its operations in relation to the current and evolving conformity assessment landscape in Africa and globally;

(b)        Establish the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO) with the following mandate:

(i)         Vocabulary and general and specific principles of conformity assessment.

(ii)        Guides and technical specifications suitable for use in all aspects of conformity assessment, e.g.: testing and calibration laboratories, proficiency testing by interlaboratory comparisons, inspection bodies and activities, product certification bodies and activities, management system audit and certification bodies and activities, personnel certification bodies and activities, marks of conformity, accreditation, peer assessment and mutual recognition of conformity assessment results.

(ii)        Permanent and operational documents for conformity assessment schemes.

(iv)       Rules for, and decide on, the admission of Certification Bodies and Testing Laboratories

(v)        Operating procedures and general matters linked with peer assessment.

(vi)       Operating procedures linked with factory inspections.

(vii)       Rules for the use of test facilities of Manufacturers’ Test Laboratories.

(viii)      Test Report Forms (TRFs).

(ix)       All other activities that the ARSO Council deems necessary for the good management and development of ARSO-CERT bearing in mind the aspirations of the continental integration agenda.

(c)        Establish the ARSO Consumer Committee (ARSO COCO) which was to identify standardization areas of priority interest to consumers and work to promote and coordinate consumer representation in those areas. This was to be achieved through:

  • Representing, promoting and protecting African consumer interests in national, RECs and African standards.
  • Involving consumers in standards development activities by providing African representation to the international community of consumer specialists for issues of consumer policy
  • Encourage the representation of the African consumer interest in the creation of technical regulations.
  • Provide a forum for the exchange of information and experience on standards and conformity assessment issues of interest to African Consumers.
  • Providing information on how standardisation benefits consumers and how consumers can contribute to standards development.
  • Mobilise African consumer body to participate in international standards setting

Following the meeting of the 48th ARSO Council meeting in Yaoundé, Cameroon from 17th to 18th June 2013, the ARSO Council approved the following:

  • ARSO Certification System (ARSO-CERT) as the African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP)
  • ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee (ARSO CACO)
  • ARSO Consumer Committee (ARSO COCO)

In addition, ARSO had adopted the African Eco-Labelling Mechanism which arose from the declaration of the 12th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) in its Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development in Africa calling upon the ‘Commission of the African Union, Governments and all stakeholders to work together to ensure the development and implementation of an African ecolabelling mechanism based on African experiences and lessons’ (June 2008). The African 10 Year Framework Programme (10-YFP) on Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) was one of the key activities that had been facilitated by UNEP as part of the follow-up on Johannesburg Plan of Implementation that was endorsed by the World Summit on Sustainable Development and was officially launched at a High-level launch session that was jointly organized by the African Union (AU), United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and UNEP and was held in May 2006. It was decided, among other things that:

  • In parallel with the preparation for the first meeting of the Executive Board, UNEP and AUC will work with ARSO and the Marrakech taskforce on Cooperation with Africa on developing a programme document that will be used for mobilizing the required funding for the Mechanism.
  • With the convening of the First Executive Board meeting of AEM, the African Union Commission, through ARSO, will assume the lead responsibility of managing the mechanism while UNEP and UNECA will continue to provide the technical back-up support.

The Partnership with standard bodies in Africa was seen to be crucial and it was felt that the AEM Secretariat should work closely with ARSO and the African Union on ensuring the support on national standard bodies for its activities, hence the decision by AU to host the AEM Secretariat at ARSO Central Secretariat.

In June 2008, at a Pre-session of the 12th Session of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN), Midrand South Africa, AMCEN in its Conclusions and Recommendations, No. 5, supported the hosting of the AEM by the ARSO:

“The Proposed launching of the African Ecolabelling Mechanism (AEM) under the general Guidance of the African Union Commission and with a Secretariat based at the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) is believed to contribute towards improving the environmental and social profile of African products and expand market access for African Products”.

The 17th ARSO General Assembly held at the Red Court Hotel, Nairobi, Kenya, 3rd December 2010, under its resolution 8b on African Ecolabelling Mechanism (AEM) Directed ARSO through National Standards Bodies to develop an African Ecolabelling standard based on climate change, environment, quality and sustainability as a basis for the AEM. Subsequently, four sector working groups were established: Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry and Tourism and through their deliberations under the guidance of the African Standards Harmonization Model developed by ARSO, the first four standards corresponding to the sectors were approved in November 2014.

At a Consultative Meeting of the Stakeholders of African Eco-labelling Mechanism held on 1st June 2016 at the Africana Hotel, Kampala, Uganda, emphasized that a proposed way forward should ensure that the original objectivity of AEM is maintained, that the mechanism is not a product of one institution and that the set up should ensure inclusivity and involvement of all relevant stakeholders – for a successful AEM, and Agreed that:

(1)        AEM will transform to the Eco Mark Africa programme under ARSO Council, but operationalizing as an independent process within the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee and the current EB of AEM now ceases to exist.

(2)        ARSO Council will be informed of this decision to establish EMA programme under ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee.

(3)        GIZ will hand over the IP of the Eco Mark Africa to Africa by transferring the IP to ARSO for its operationalization

The 54th ARSO Council meeting held from 20th – 21st June 2016 in Arusha, Tanzania, Eco-Mark Africa was formally absorbed within the African Conformity Assessment Programme (ACAP). In parallel, in 2016, ARSO had initiated the review of the ACAP documentation including the development of certification schemes to operationalize certification. This included designing of the Certification System, with identification of the specific certification schemes and technical Standards to be applied in the different industry sectors. This included incorporating the Certification Scheme D on Sustainability and Eco-labelling. The first full set of the ACAP documents were completed in 2018 with the full participation of the ARSO Conformity Assessment Committee and approved by the 58th ARSO Council meeting in Durban, South Africa on 18th June 2018.

After the Council approval, ARSO Secretariat kicked off the piloting of the ACAP actualization by contracting Det Norske Veritas (Norway) and Germanischer Lloyd (Germany) (DNV-GL) to create awareness among target firms and NSB certification bodies and building their capacity to undergo certification or licensing. DNV-GL, on behalf of ARSO Secretariat, assessed the Certification bodies for their capacity to conduct audits with respect to the four standards on sustainability and eco-labelling. Among the 10 certification bodies participating, two managed to qualify within the set time limits: Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ).

KEBS and SAZ assessed a wide range of firms between 2018 and early 2019. The EcoMark Africa (EMA) label was officially launched on 8th March 2019 with the award of seven companies for qualifying products.

Treaty Establishing the African Economic Community (Abuja Treaty) 1991

Eco Mark Africa in Brief

Developing an African Ecolabelling Scheme, 2007.pdf

UNEP/AMCEN/12/9 – 12thAMCEN_Declaration Annex I: African Ministerial Conference on the Environment Johannesburg Declaration on the Environment for Sustainable Development

ARSO CACO ACAP 1-1:2017, Regulations — Part 1-1: General requirements for the certification systems

ARSO CACO ACAP 1-2:2017, Regulations — Part 1-2: Special requirements for the certification systems

ARSO CACO ACAP 1-3:2017, Regulations — Part 1-3: Requirements for approval of certification bodies

ARSO CACO ACAP 1-4:2017, Regulations — Part 1-4 Requirements for approval of testing and calibration laboratories

ARSO CACO ACAP 2:2017, Sustainable agriculture — Assessment and certification

ARSO CACO ACAP 4:2017, Cosmetology and Wellness — Certification Framework

ARSO CACO ACAP 5-1:2017, Certification scheme for medicinal plant produce — Part 1 General requirements

ARSO CACO ACAP 5-2:2017, Certification scheme for medicinal plant produce — Part 2 Good collection practices (GCP) for medicinal plant produce

ARSO CACO ACAP 5-3:2017, Certification scheme for medicinal plant produce — Part 3 Good agricultural practices (GAP) for medicinal plant produce

ARSO CACO ACAP 5-4:2017, Certification scheme for medicinal plant produce — Part 4 Good manufacturing practices (GMP) for herbal medicines

ARSO CACO ACAP 5-5:2017, Certification scheme for medicinal plant produce — Part 5 Minimum requirements for registration of traditional medicines

EMA Logo User Guide – 28th September 2022

List of Firms with EMA Certification