As part of the implementation of the West African Quality System Programme (WAQSP) in line with ECOWAS Quality Policy, a workshop has been organised to build a quality infrastructure and regional capacity for candidate assessors of the accreditation bodies of ECOWAS Commission, ECOWAS Regional System (ECORAS) on ISO/IEC 17020 standard.
The objective of the three-day workshop in Abuja, funded by the European Union and implemented by UNIDO is to make available expertise on ISO/IEC 17020 standard on the accreditation of inspection bodies in the region through training of candidate evaluators.
Speaking at the event, UNIDO Chief Technical Advisor, West Africa Quality System Programme, Aka Jean Joseph Kouassi, in his address said the workshop is to train the evaluators of the accreditation system, and also to recognise the competences of the inspection bodies on specific international standards on ISO/IEC 17020.
He said: “Building a quality infrastructure in a region of over 300million people and 16 economies is a long term process. UNIDO and its partners, the ECOWAS Commission and the European Union, have understood this well and have been collaborating on this project for about 20 years.
“We don’t have sufficient competencies in the region. So this training is organised to train them on specific standards. With the organisation of this regional capacity building workshop, ECOWAS has demonstrated that it has resolutely taken in hand the question of market surveillance and consumer protection.”
According to Kouassi, “The system is developed to facilitate the situation of the products within the region and also help to protect the consumers. All the certificates delivered by the inspection bodies in all the countries of ECOWAS should be in all the countries. This is important, because all the products entering the region are not specifically controlled, so by this system, we are training people to have the best tool to support the control in the region,” he said.
ECOWAS Commissioner in charge of Industry and Promotion of Private Sector, Mamadou Traore, while delivering his speech, stated that the essence of the training is to build the capacity of experts, especially those working in accreditation fields.
“The issue today is that the West African countries don’t have specific accreditation bodies to provide quality products and services. So now with this, this expertise in the subregion will help our laboratories offer products and goods of quality to consumers.”
Traore further said that the programme has come to help build quality system in the region. “This is important to me because it is about the protection of our people. We are working for the social and economic prosperity and the competitiveness of our companies. At the end of the day, we will have experts who will be available to work in the interest of the sub-region,” he added.
Also speaking, Nigeria’s minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Ikechukwu Enelamah, represented by Director of Industry, Mr Francis Alaneme, in his speech expressed delight over the workshop, saying the training will help establish a framework for development and operation of appropriate, relevant, efficient and effective quality infrastructure for sustainable economic development.
He said: “It is necessary to be mindful of the scope of this international standard ISO/IEC 17020, and some accompanying guidance documents in which the member states represented by their National Accreditation Focal Points, as well as the resource persons in the field of medicine control.”
While thanking the EU for funding the WAQSP with 12million Euros, and UNIDO for facilitating the implementation of the programme, he urged the ECOWAS Commission, member states of the region and all technical and financial partners to continue to participate fully in the development of accreditation process as the only guarantee of an efficient assessment system in the region.
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