Abuja — In furtherance of the objectives of the West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) designed towards the implementation of the ECOWAS Quality Policy (ECOQUAL), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the European Union (EU) have moved towards the certification of five priority products in the sub-region.
The products selected by the member-states of ECOWAS are drinking water, cashew nuts, vegetable oils, cement and fish.
Product certification in the region is designed to help consumers in the ECOWAS region to recognise safe and secure products and services that meet established standards.
The certification programme, funded by the EU is being implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) under the West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP).
Speaking in Abuja Wednesday during the third meeting of the ECOWAS Community Committee for Conformity Assessment (ECOCONFA,the ECOWAS Representative for Industry and Private Sector Promotion, Yaya Niato said the standards would assist buyers, sellers and other stakeholders to agree on the procedures for conformity assessment.
This, according to him, would help to avoid delays and the multiplication of inspection operations in terms of testing or product certification.
According to him, the need to boost the level of intra-African trade which stands at about 12 per cent and product competitiveness informed the move.
He said: “Under this policy, we are working to ensure that companies respect quality because this will be beneficial not only for the companies by making them competitive in the market but also to protect the consumers and the environment.
“Intra-regional trade is very low at about 12 per cent in Africa. So we are working hard to make it better.”
The National Programme Officer, UNIDO, Dr. Osuji Otu, who also spoke at the meeting said with this programme, the aim of sustainability for the ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure Scheme would be achieved.
“The success of a mark requires the existence of expertise in several areas, including in the field of calibration, standardisation, technical regulations, and testing, to name only those.
“Therefore, the support of UNIDO covers inclusively all these needs,” he said
UNIDO, he added, will continue to work towards improving economic competitiveness, creating shared prosperity and protecting the environment to allow an inclusive and sustainable industrial development.
An international expert was recruited and he proposed draft documents on the operationality of the ECOWAS Regional Product Certification Scheme.
Pending the setting up of the “Certification” sub-committee to validate the draft documents, they have been submitted to the experts of the bodies in charge of the certification of the member-states.
These draft documents were expanded on May 31 and June 1, 2018 in Cotonou, Benin Republic for adoption by ECOCONF.