Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The European Union (EU) has so far contributed a billion Euros to help the standardisation of goods and services produced within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as part of the efforts to make them satisfactory for the global market.
The EU Project Manager for the West Africa Quality Systems Programme (WAQSP), Mr. Frank Okafor, who made the revelation in Abuja, at the extended WASQP steering committee meetings, stated that EU’s backing of the programme was targeted at promoting and unifying trade within the ECOWAS sub-region as well as to the world markets.
According to him, the EU contribution has been for a period of about 17 years, adding that it has also partnered and coordinated efforts with other development partners, including USAID, among others..
“ All our contributions to this quality upgrade project is aimed at having a harmonised standards of products in West Africa and to ensure that goods and services here are competitive and meet the international requirement with all bearing the ECOWAS Quality Agency – ECOWAQ approval Mark,” Okafor said..
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the UN body charged with industry worldwide under whose purview the project is being undertaken has the mandate to promote and accelerate the inclusive and sustainable industrial development of developing countries and economies in transition.
Addressing the representatives of ECOWAS countries , the UNIDO Director General, Mr. Li Yong who was represented by the UNIDO Project Officer in charge of the WAQSP, Mr. Bernard Bau noted UNIDO’s intervention in the programme.
On the progress report of the implementation so far, he said: “ We have taken it from a very short perspective but I think what counts here is the overall result. From last year we have made big progress, we have held very critical regional training and workshops on different important topics such as consumer protection, public procurement guidelines to integrate quality requirements.
“We are also working on curriculum for universities, we want universities to take methods at the regional level, we have also moved towards the accreditation with international recognition of additional testing laboratories and certification.’’
“Now we have reached a number of 19 conformity assessment bodies being accredited in the region of which four are certification bodies. We have also developed further the quality certification mandate that we have established for ECOWAS. Some countries so far have also adopted their national quality policy–nine out of the 16 West African countries in the region. We still have to work a bit with the six or seven remaining countries so that they push the agenda for the adoption of quality policy because it is really the backbone of quality infrastructure development for ECOWAS countries.
“Unfortunately, I must say that Nigeria has not done the step; they have not yet approved the quality policy. There are a lot of internal discussion and negotiation in the country and you know that Nigeria is a very big economy; some discussions are ongoing but we are positive and hopeful that the policy will be adopted if not this year, then next year,” Bau noted.