Regional Accreditation System: FG Tasks ECOWAS Commission, Partner Agencies

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Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

The federal government has urged the ECOWAS Commission, member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as technical and financial partners to continue to participate fully in the efforts to develop the Regional Accreditation System (RAS).

It observed that in doing so, the stakeholders would be guaranteeing an efficient, sustainable and wealth-creating conformity assessment system in the region.

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah dropped the challenge at the opening session of a four-day Constitutive Meetings of the Regional Accreditation System and the ECOWAS Community Committees.

Represented by a director in the ministry, Dr. Francis Alaneme, the minister said the outcome of the meetings would definitely be aligned with the strategic direction of the region’s Common Industrial Policy and Quality Policy (ECOQUAL) and other important priorities.

According to him, the essence was to ensure that both public and private sector actors have a common valuable report as well as access to a network of accredited providers and suppliers of competitive conformity assessment services in the region.

He added: “The ultimate goal of these activities is to ensure and make accreditation more accessible by developing competent RAS, regional committees, accreditation bodies that are internationally recognised by their peers.”

Enelamah stressed that the purpose of the RAS was to coordinate activities in the ECOWAS region, specifically to support rapid operation of existing or future accreditation bodies, which should operate in accordance with international rules applicable in the field.

RAS, he added, will propose mechanisms for the recognition of the various conformity assessment certificates issued by ECOWAS member-states at the national level pending receipt of international clearance confirming the competence of the accreditation bodies.

According to the minister, it will also establish cooperation agreements between accreditation bodies set up in the region to cover all the needs in the field.

He congratulated all the member-states, particularly Ghana and Nigeria, who had kept fate with the project to have started their national accreditation bodies, when the region had no valuable experience in accreditation, but rather depended on the use of foreign structures for their accreditation needs to keep afloat.

In his address, the ECOWAS Commissioner in Charge of Industry and Promotion of Private Sector, Mr. Kalilou Traore, thanked Nigeria for agreeing to host no fewer than ten meetings of the West African Quality System Program (WAQSP) within a few months.

This gesture, he said, was a demonstration of the importance Nigeria attaches to the development of the regional quality infrastructure.

Traore said: “The meetings that bring us together are organised by the West African Quality System Program (WAQSP) , which is one of the major programmes of the ECOWAS Commission, in the framework of the implementation of the West African Common Industrial Policy (WACIP).”

He thanked the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) which implements the programme, and particularly the European Union (EU), which handles the funding to the tune of €12 million (12m Euros).