By Oluchi Chibuzor
In order to reap the full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), there is the urgent need to harmonise products standards in Africa, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has said.
It further stated that standards’ harmonisation would equally go a long way towards checking the activities of unscrupulous importers and dealers on fake and sub-standard products who would want to use the window opened by the trade pact to carry out economic sabotage.
Director General/ Chief Executive, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim stated these at the African Organisation for Standardisations (ARSO) Council Meeting as part of the ARSO General Assembly in Kigali, Rwanda recently.
He was quoted in a statement to have said AfCFTA has presented the compelling need for product standards to be harmonised at the regional level in order to promote intra-African trade.
He explained: “Africa is no doubt a big market. The advanced countries know this. Africa must therefore put her act properly together to compete with the rest of the world.
“ARSO needs to brainstorm concerning the kind, type and nature of products and services that could give Africa comparative advantage and value addition at the global market. It is all about global acceptability, competitiveness and regional economic development.’’
He stated that ARSO needs standardisation and quality assurance to promote sustainable agricultural and industrial growth, while ensuring food security in Africa, adding that SON has since developed several standards on agricultural and agro-allied products.
Salim also congratulated the newly elected president of the 26th General Assembly of ARSO, who is the Director General, Ghana Standards Authority, Prof. Alex Dodoo.
Salim said SON was set up to provide technical assistance and support to genuine local manufacturers as well as protect them from unfair competition from substandard products.
While also acknowledging manufacturers’ sacrifices through investments in infrastructure, creation of job opportunities and regular payment of taxes as part of growing the nation’s wealth, he assured them of his commitment and support to boost local manufacturing in Nigeria.
Dodoo would succeed BOOTO à NGON Charles in June 2022, after he was unanimously elected in Kigali, Rwanda.
In his acceptance speech, Dodoo expressed gratitude to member-states for the trust and confidence reposed in Ghana and his candidature.
“I am delighted to be given the opportunity to serve, having in mind the enormous task of supporting our respective governments in making the AfCFTA a success which is key to the continent post-covid recovery,” the president-elect stated.
In a related development, the world body in-charge of standards, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) has congratulated Ghana and Dodoo on the election victory, urging the ARSO president-elect to support member-states to strengthen their national quality infrastructure.
“We can only harmonise standards when we have robust national quality infrastructure,” ISO President, Eddy Njoroge said in his congratulatory remarks.
Dodoo emerged as the choice of all the member-states on the back-drop of his vision to rapidly harmonise standards on the continent, while leveraging on the proximity of AfCFTA secretariat being in Accra to further the aims of ARSO.