By Jerry Emmanson, Abuja
The West Africa Quality System Programme has organised a third meeting of ECOWAS Community Committee For Conformity Assessment (ECOCONF) to adopt the draft documents relating to the implementation of the ECOWAS regional Product Certification System.
Product certification in the region is designed to help consumers in the ECOWAS region to recognize safe and secure products and services that meet established standards.
At a 4-day workshop held in Abuja between 18-21st June, 2019 on the “Adoption of the operational documents of the ECOWAS Regional Mark of Conformity (ECOQMARK),” participants discussed ways to facilitate trade at intra-regional and international levels, to protect consumers and the environment, and promote sustainable economic development.
Speaking at the event, Representative of ECOWAS Commission for Industry & Private Sector Promotions, Yaya Niato in his address said the aim of the programme is to help ECOWAS implement its regional quality policy, adding that the programme has helped ECOWAS to set up quality structures and institutions in the region.
“We have a regional concept for quality. These concept for quality has five committees, which are on accreditation, technical regulation, meteorology and conformity assessment.
“These committees have been set up and are functional. We are working to make them start practical activities in the field. We are also working on a certification mark to show how products and services conform with established standards.
“We have selected first five products to begin certification, which are fish, cement, water and two other products. The meeting today is to validate the processes and rules to select the products and enterprises that conform with the certification mark,” he said.
Also speaking, UNIDO Regional Director In Nigeria, represented by the National Programme Officer, UNIDO Regional Hub Nigeria, Dr Osuji Otu thanked the European Union and the Commissions of ECOWAS and UEMOA, for their confidence in UNIDO, especially for the implementation of their Quality Infrastructure projects in West Africa for the past 20 years.
He said commitment to product certification is of great interest for the region, for both public and private structures, but also for women’s entrepreneurship, adding that with the program, the aim of sustainability for the ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure Scheme could be achieved.
“UNIDO’s vision for inclusive and sustainable industrial development stands on three pillars which are; improving economic competitiveness, create and share prosperity, and protecting the environment to allow an inclusive and sustainable industrial development.”
Otu maintained that the success of a mark requires the existence of expertise in several areas, including in the field of calibration, standardization, technical regulations, and testing.
The West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) of ECOWAS, implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), is funded to the tune of EUR 12 million by the European Union (EU).
The program supports the implementation of the ECOWAS Quality Policy to “establish a framework for the development and operation of appropriate, relevant, efficient and effective quality infrastructure, to facilitate trade at intra-regional and international levels, to protect the consumer and the environment, and promote sustainable economic development.”