The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission has adopted the draft documents for the establishment of the ECOWAS Regional Product Certification Scheme (ECOMark) within the framework of the West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) implemented by UNIDO, with 12m Euro funding from the European Union.
At a 2 -day Community Committee for Conformity Assessment (ECOCONF) meeting in Abuja, critical stakeholders came together to deliberate and adopt the general rules of the regional certification Mark; model of the certifying specific rules; approval of the mandating rules of the national product certification bodies and their testing laboratories; terms of reference for the design of the logo type of the regional certificate mark; and the criteria for the priority products to benefit from the issuance of the Regional Mark.
Speaking in his opening speech, Commissioner of ECOWAS, In Charge Of Industry & Private Sector Promotion, Mr Mamadou Traore, thanked the Nigerian government for the commitment to the development of quality in Nigeria and in the region, the European Union for funding the regional quality development programs, and UNIDO for delivering on the programs.
“Let me remind you that this regional meeting is organized as part of the implementation of two main regulations adopted by the ECOWAS Council of Ministers in December 2013 in Abuja and in June 2017 in Monrovia, respectively implementing the scheme, thequality infrastructure of ECOWAS; and the organization and functioning of the Community Committee For Conformity Assessment of ECOWAS.
“The first regulation cited identifies the main regional structures to set up, while defining their missions. The second regulation defines the organization and functioning of the Community Committee For Conformity Assessment of ECOWAS while recalling its mission and composition.”
Traore stated further that the establishment of these different structures contributes to the realization of the ECOWAS vision of moving from an ECOWAS of States to an ECOWAS of peoples by 2020 and which determines more than ever the actions of the ECOWAS Commission.
Regional Director UNIDO In Nigeria, Aka Jean Joseph Kouassi while delivering his speech said building a region -wide quality infrastructure is a long term endeavor that requires a great deal of human and financial resources and sustained political will, saying for more than 20years, the region has fortunately gathered its strength through constant political will of the highest officials of ECOWAS and UEMOA and the financial resources made available by the European Union.
“UNIDO is pleased that the implementation of all these projects is in perfect harmony with UNIDO’s new vision of action for inclusive and sustainable industrial development. As a result, all of UNIDO’s interventions in West Africa are part of this new mandate that Member States have given it in 2013, based on the three fundamental principles of improving economic competitiveness, creating and sharing prosperity and protecting the environment, that is inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.
Speaking earlier, European Union Delegation to Nigeria & ECOWAS, Nadia Cannata in her remarks thanked the organisers and expressed delight in the high participation from the ECOWAS Members States.
She said the objective of the project is precisely the setting up of regional quality infrastructure system in close collaboration with the West African private sector, adding that the objective is almost being realized.
“For the EU, a conformity assessment ensures that a manufacturer can only place a product on the EU market when it meets all the applicable requirements. The conformity assessment procedure is carried out before the product can be sold. The European Commission’s main objective is to help ensure that unsafe or otherwise non-compliant products do not find their way to the EU market,” she said.
Mr Francis Alaneme, representative of The Nigerian Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment, Mr Ikechukwu Enelamah, in his address stated that the adoption of the draft document on regional product certification system will go a long way to cover the needs of countries that do not yet have accreditation bodies.
He said the regional systems of products accreditation through the ECOWAS Standards Conformity Mark is one of the tools that will serve as a benchmark for consumers to identify products that meet the quality standards of the region.
“The importance of this regional product certification scheme shall provide assurances of safety and reliability to users of your products, provide an independent assurance that your products are manufactured under an effective system of testing, supervision and control which should result in improved production efficiency and reduced wastage and rejects.
“Quality is of interest to both enterprises and consumers, indeed to all. This conformity assessment it to be globally competitive and enhance the trade of ECOWAS region,” he said.