By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja –
In order to enhance trade facilitation, quality infrastructure, ECOWAS in collaboration with the European Union (EU) and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) has agreed to develop a Regional Accreditation System (RAS) to strengthen the business environment within the region.
The decision reached by the organizations was made known by Mr Kafui Kouassi, Chairman of the board (meeting) at a 4day meeting in Abuja, held from November, 6 to 9.
Kouassi said the programme to support the implementation of ECOWAS Quality Policy, establishment of the Regional ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure and West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) started in 2014.
He said the objective of the board was to organise meetings of the Regional Accreditation System and Community Committees for Metrology.
“The meeting also set up Community Committees for Technical Regulation and Community Committees for Conformity Assessment.
“In June, the council of ministers adopted the regulations relating to the operation and functioning of the Community Council, Community Committees, Regional Accreditation System and the setting up of the ECOWAS Agency for Quality.”
Mr Bernard Bau, Manager of WAQSP, said UNIDO was supporting the ECOWAS Commission to enhance trade facilitation.
Bau said “we are moving into the operationalisation to implement the quality framework of ECOWAS.’’
He said quality was of interest to both enterprises and consumers.
“We want to enhance the trade of ECOWAS region through laboratory testing, capacity building and the training of people on food management safety,’’ he said.
He encouraged the private sector to adhere to quality and urged member states to work with quality and standard to enhance trade facilitation.
Bau said that the four community committees were set up for the realisation of metrology policy, technical regulations, conformity assessment and accreditation as defined in the regulatory documents.
Also speaking, Mr Celestine Okanya, the President of Regional System Accreditation, said the meeting recommended the establishment of conformity assessment secretariat by the end of March 2018.
Okanya also said that the meeting agreed to start the promotion of ECOWAS mark for production certification in January 2018.
The meeting also agreed to ensure the technical validation of criteria for the entrustment of national certification bodies in-charge of delivering the ECOWAS mark of conformity, he said.
The programme which started since February 2013 and will end by January 2018 has been funded by European Union to the tune of 12Million Euros.