The African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO) and the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have established that products imported from countries outside Africa constitute over 80 per cent of substandard goods found in markets in Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
The Director General, SON and President of ARSO, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, made this known during the stakeholders launch to announce a three-day expo for Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of all African National Standards Bodies (NSBs) slated to hold this month in Abuja.
He added that unfortunately, most of the influx of the substandard goods into the nation’s market and the continent are deliberately carried out by people intent on undermining the African market and diminishing the value for money in the usage of such products, for their selfish benefit.
According to him, it was against this background that the ARSO forum in Abuja would be used to sensitise the world on the readiness of African standards bodies to strengthen economic integration in the continent by breaking technical barriers to trade through standards unification to enhance industrial and economic empowerment.
“We do not have a problem with products made in Africa. Africa only has an issue of sub-standardisation due to lack of requisite technology and absence of the capacity to produce at the highest level in terms of quality. Currently, we are having issues in trading among ourselves and we are looking at building an intra-Africa trade, to take the volume of trade within the continent beyond the current precariously low level of five per cent.
“If African nations can trade with one another, we will not only trade more economically, but build a more robust African economy,” Odumodu said.
He added that Africa must come together to fight its common enemies, stressing that the continent may not be able to fight its enemies with each country acting on its own. “I believe if we all stick together and form a powerful force; it may be a lot easier to actually check the excesses of those who have made Africa to remain on its knees all these years. This forum which we have tagged “Africa Rises for Standards” which is to hold in Abuja, will among other expectations, bring about the strengthening of the standardisation capacity of Africa through dialogue, information and experience sharing to form the key elements that will promote and sustain Africa’s productivity and trade,” he said.
He noted that the African Heads of States declared 2017 as the year when all the countries in Africa will be integrated into a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), but maintained that for this to happen successfully, the countries in Africa have to be on the same page, having common standards and same language in other aspects of the quality infrastructure.
“We believe that the present membership of ARSO, which is 34 countries today, may not serve the purpose the Heads of States have set for us as a target. It is imperative that we must bring all African countries under the umbrella of the ARSO so that in 2017, when the CFTA starts, we will be on the same page and raise the volume of intra-Africa trade from the current 5 per cent to 30 per cent yearly, moving forward,” he said.
He said one of the challenges ARSO was grappling with is the that a number of countries do not have their own standard bodies, stressing the need for these countries to be supported by those countries that have built robust capacities in order to make every nation in the continent speak with one voice.
By Pita Ochai
By Pita Ochai