By Nse Anthony-Uko
ABUJA, (Sundiata Post) — Implementation of the ECOWAS Quality infrastructure policy is set to take off full swing following the establishment of the regional committees necessary to put the policy into operation, the election of Presidents and Vice Presidents as well as adoption of their work plan for the next three years.
These were the major fallouts of the four-day Constitutive Meetings of the Regional Accreditation System and the ECOWAS Community Committees held in Abuja, last week.
Presidents and Vice Presidents elected to lead the four operational committees of the West Africa Quality System Programme (WAQSP) include: Regional System of Accreditation (RAS) President: Mr Celestine Okanya, (Nigeria), vice president: Mr Marcel Gbaguidi (Senegal); Community Committee for Metrology President: Mr Paul Date (Ghana); Vice President: Mr Gabriel Ahissou (Benin); Community Committee for Conformity Assessment, President: Mr Kafui Codjo Kuassi (Togo); Vice President: Mrs Isatou Binta Kamara (Sierra Leone); and Community Committee of Technical Regulations President: Mr Seydou Kassogue (Mali); Vice President: Mr Michael Senayah (Ghana);
Speaking at the end of the four-day meetings, Manager of WAQSP in UNIDO, Mr Bernard Bau, said the meetings marked a major milestone in the implementation of the Quality infrastructure policy for West Africa and ECOWAS.
Bau said UNIDO was supporting the ECOWAS Commission to enhance trade facilitation. “We are moving into the operationalization to implement the quality framework of ECOWAS.’’
He said quality was of interest to both enterprises and consumers.
“We want to enhance the trade of ECOWAS region through laboratory testing, capacity building and the training of people on food management safety,’’ he said.
He encouraged the private sector to adhere to quality and urged member states to work with quality and standard to enhance trade facilitation.
Bau said that the four community committees were set up for the realisation of metrology policy, technical regulations, conformity assessment and accreditation as defined in the regulatory documents.
Mr Celestine Okanya, the President of Regional System Accreditation, said the meeting recommended the establishment of conformity assessment secretariat by the end of March 2018.
Okanya also said that the meeting agreed to start the promotion of ECOWAS mark for production certification in January 2018.
The meeting also agreed to ensure the technical validation of criteria for the entrustment of national certification bodies in-charge of delivering the ECOWAS mark of conformity, he said.
Okanya said the meeting further agreed to provide the arrangement to improve travelling logistics for participants attending ECOWAS meetings and inform member states of their obligations on supporting metrology institution, programme and development through budget allocations’’.
“Following the work plan that has been adopted here, the West African Quality infrastructure policy has moved from paper and bird discussion to real implementation because the committees have been mandated to begin work immediately.
“In the area of accreditation, If we get to the point where the level of accreditation is high, a product that is coming into Nigeria from Benin Republic, if it carries any of the stamps will not be subjected to will not be subjected to any further testing or certification programme
“We are trying to harmonise the way we trade on products and render services across the west African region. In the end it will facilitate trade first among west African nation, then between west Africa and the rest of the continent and the world,” Okanya said.
The ECOWAS Quality Infrastructure Programme is operated in collaboration with the European Union (EU) under its 12 million Euros Fund, while United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is providing technical partnership.