The federal government is seeking an improvement in the quality of products being traded among African countries, even in the global market.
Speaking on Monday at the 69th Council meeting of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) hosted by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) in Abuja, the Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment, Dr Doris Anite, noted that most of the exports from African countries are made up of raw products.
She called on the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), African Union (AU) institutions, the private sector, development partners, and the standardisation stakeholders (that is, Pan African Quality Infrastructure, ARSO, the National Standardisation Bodies) to mobilise for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a means to boost intra-Africa trade, particularly trade in value-added production and commerce across all sectors of Africa’s economy.
“The goal of my ministry is to reposition and revitalise the Nigerian economy for sustainable growth by exploring innovative strategies to bolster our nation’s economic sustainability.
“For Nigeria to realise this vision, we must embrace standardisation as: “Standards set good international best practises in every sector of life,”, which, if strictly adhered to, promotes productivity, trade, and ensures predictability, transparency, and openness, as well as a basis for technical regulations, which, if complied with, will promote Africa’s government regulatory frameworks.
“May I also take this moment to highlight the fact that successful and sustainable exports to the global marketplace are increasingly predicated on demonstrable compliance with quality requirements of standards for goods and services, which are based on appropriate and globally recognised Quality Infrastructure (QI)?
“Linked to this is the need to build a quality infrastructure (QI) that supports the provision of quality assurance based on internationally recognised standardisation, metrology, technical regulation, conformity assessment, and accreditation practices.”
Represented by Mrs Comfort Emenbu, the Minister explained that “we must not lose focus; therefore, with a few exceptions, the African economy remains un-industrialized, as Africa exports raw materials to import value-added goods.
“This observation at the continental level also remains valid at the level of each of our states. Two figures bear eloquent witness to this state of affairs: Africa’s share of world trade is 4%, while trade between African countries represents 17% of their global trade.
“Africa’s low level of industrialization explains this depressing state of affairs, and it should be our collective responsibility to address the challenges that also affect our trading capacities,” she noted.
In his welcome address, the Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr Ifeanyi Okeke, said the ARSO Council plays a vital role in approving harmonised African standards and regulations across our continent, thereby ensuring that the highest standards of quality, safety, and innovation are deployed to facilitate trade within the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and globally.
Okeke explained that the Council meeting also promotes cooperation among member states. “Consequently, I am truly delighted to participate in this event for the first time, to contribute to our shared goals, and to foster closer relationships with colleagues on the continent,” he stated.
On his part, the Secretary General of ARSO, Dr Hermogene Nsengimana, said 70 per cent of African export rejections are based on technical issues.
The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) was established in 1976 for the harmonisation of standards among African countries.
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