By Ossom Raphael
African Organisation for Standardisation, ARSO has said less than 10 per cent of intra-African trade and less than three per cent of global trade volume in the African continent was recorded.
ARSO President, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, who is also the Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, disclosed this at the opening ceremony of the ongoing ARSO Chief Executive Officers Forum in Abuja.
Dr. Odumodu stated that the current state of globalised trade required the standardisation of products and services in line with the requirements of the World Trade Organisation.
According to him “Africa’s intra and inter trades could only be improved upon through standardisation programmes being championed by the organisation. Through this, the continent would be able to feed itself, reduce poverty and diseases among the people.
“The continent has not been exception of the increasing movement towards globalisation, the economic trends and patterns that are experiencing dynamic shifts, since intra-African and inter-African trade has evolved greatly over time.”
“The mobilisation of all National Standardisation Bodies, NSBs into the membership of ARSO would drive the standardisation programmes necessary for the strengthening of the competitiveness of Made-in-Africa products as well as engender regional and/or continental fusion into an economic block.
“The general consensus is that regional and continental integration and cooperation is, perhaps, the most appropriate way of improving the low levels of intra-African trade as well as international trade. It enhances the reaping of economies of scale. It promotes integrated or harmonised treatment of trans-boundary issues such as trade, regulatory frameworks and policies, regional infrastructure and other cross-border issues.
“This has resulted in a growing demand to scale up international, continental and regional solutions, with a greater focus on mainstreaming regional issues in national planning, regional infrastructure and the missing link, economic integration.
“On this note, it is also important to note that organised standardisation has now become an important element of infrastructure needed for the healthy growth of industry and commerce in all countries of the world.”
Odumodu added that trade has had a significant impact on the political, economic and socio-cultural development of African markets, reduction of production costs, improved productivity and reduction of poverty.
Earlier, the Secretary General, ARSO, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, said many developing countries in Africa faced significant standardisation challenges, stating that this had it impossible for them to effectively participate in global trading activities.
“The significant challenges associated with trade liberalization are emerging as priorities for developing countries especially in Africa. As a result, this has significantly raised the profile of the need for a well- coordinated quality infrastructure I Africa to ensure participation in the global trading system.
“With the increasing globalisation of markets, standards have become critical to ensuring access to export markets as standards and conformity assessment are the pillars that underpin the global trading system”. Nsengimana added