By Miriam Humbe
Nigeria has called for a robust and effective Pan African Quality Policy to drive the attainment of Africa’s development goals which are closely aligned with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Edet Sunday Akpan made the call while presenting a keynote address at the opening of a two-day consultative workshop for developing a Pan-African Quality Policy in Abuja.
Addressing the Standardization and Quality Infrastructure experts from Central, North and West Africa, Mr. Akpan enthused that the need to develop a Pan-African Quality Policy was derived from AGENDA 2063 of the African Union, being the blueprint and master plan for transforming the continent into a global powerhouse of the future.
He said the presence of quality infrastructure was essential for a mutually beneficial, free movement of goods and services across national, regional and continental borders, which are however contingent upon clear and approved quality policy documents at National, Regional and Continental levels for proper guidance.
Akpan further stated that Africa’s flagship programmes were technology based and futuristic in design against the background of the fourth Industrial Revolution. The sustainability according to him, strongly depends on adherence to standards and quality.
Mr. Akpan said the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement further emphasizes the need for the development of a robust Pan-African Quality policy document to ensure synergy, reduce duplication of efforts, ensure harmonization of standards and conformity assessment procedures in order to position Africa towards becoming a dominant player in the global arena.
He disclosed that a draft Nigerian National Quality Policy document coordinated by his Ministry was awaiting the approval of the Federal Executive Council and enumerated Nigeria’s strides in the harmonization of standards and conformity assessment procedures within the Economic Community of West African States and the Continent under the auspices of the African Organization for Standardization (ARSO).
Nigeria, he stated, was proud to host the consultative workshop on the draft of a Pan-African Quality Policy for West, North and Central Africa with the objective of harmonizing the outcomes with a similar workshop in Nairobi Kenya held on 22nd and 23rd July for East and Southern Africa.
Mr. Akpan then requested the diligent contribution of the individual and collective expertise of the delegates in developing a robust and effective Pan-African Quality Policy document to position Africa
Chairperson of the Pan African Quality Infrastructure, Dr. Hermogene Nsegimana invited the experts from Central, North and West Africa to take ownership of the draft quality policy document to meet the aspirations of the continent in substantially increasing intra-African Trade as well as promoting greater competitiveness of made-in-Africa products with the rest of the world.
He expressed regret that it took about 27 years after the African Union resolution on the need for the development of a Pan African Quality Policy document. He however commended the massive representation by experts from member states of the AU, describing the coincidence of the workshop with the coming into effect of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement as timely.
Welcoming the participants earlier, Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Osita Aboloma Esq. enumerated some of the quality infrastructure projects already delivered by his organization as including:
The revision of existing SON laws to empower and strengthen the standards infrastructure to meet the needs of Nigerian industry and make the processes more relevant as well as business friendly,development of a National Metrology Institute nearing completion in Enugu, international accreditation of SON Laboratories, its Training and Management Systems Certification services as well as ongoing automation of all its services to stakeholders.
He said these are aimed at promoting the ease of doing business in and with Nigeria.
SON according to Aboloma has also been actively involved in the harmonization of Standards within the ECOWAS region and the African continent in addition to the development of Standards for artisanship such as carpentry, masonry, fashion design, painting among many others to ensure free exchange of the services.
The consultative workshop was a follow-up to a similar one held in Nairobi Kenya for experts in East and Southern Africa.
Participants included development partners.