KENYA – The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has welcomed a courtesy call from Professor Alexander Dodoo, President of the African Organisation for Standardisation (ARSO), and Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, ARSO Secretary General intending to promote intra-African trade.

The meeting centered on reinforcing collaboration between KEBS and ARSO through standard harmonization, with a particular focus on the potential for a mutual recognition agreement between KEBS and the Ghana Standards Authority in regulatory control areas.

The discussions highlighted the strategic collaboration aimed at facilitating trade within the African continent.

Standard harmonization emerged as a key driver, fostering an environment conducive to seamless intra-Africa trade. The potential mutual recognition agreement between KEBS and the Ghana Standards Authority is poised to further enhance regulatory cooperation, creating a foundation for smoother trade relations.

Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) invited KEBS for performance management training, utilizing the Balance Score Card methodology. The commitment to capacity building and benchmarking activities was emphasized, reflecting a shared dedication to enhancing regulatory practices within the year.

Establishing the permanent ARSO Headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, was a focal point of discussion.

This move signifies a commitment to fostering collaboration and ensuring a centralized hub for standardization efforts.

The meeting also acknowledged ARSO’s initiatives, including ACTReF, MiA, Continental Standardisation Strategy, and National Quality Policy alignment, as integral components for the successful implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

ARSO was formed in 1977 with the principal mandate to harmonise African Standards and conformity assessment procedures in order to reduce Technical Barriers to Trade and therefore promote intra-African and international Trade as well as enhance the industrialization of Africa.

So far 54 African countries have signed the AfCFTA agreement and 47 member countries have ratified it. According to AfCFTA, its implementation will increase the volume of intra-African trade from the current 16% to 40% by 2045.

Promoting regional standards and supporting AfCFTA measures

Last year, ARSO signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Geneva-based International Trade Centre (ITC), renewing a working commitment until 2028. The updated cooperation framework aligns with Africa’s regional integration efforts, particularly under the AfCFTA. The collaboration aims to establish a ‘Made in Africa’ label, boost trade, and promote sustainability standards, aligning with global shifts towards environmental, social, ethical, and food safety practices.

The collaborative efforts between ARSO and ITC will focus on promoting regional standards in AfCFTA priority sectors and the Eco Mark Africa ecolabel.

Additionally, the organizations will work towards aligning National Quality Policies with the Africa Quality Policy, providing tailored training sessions for small businesses, including those led by women and young entrepreneurs.

At the signing ceremony, Dr. Hermogene Nsengimana, ARSO Secretary General, expressed optimism about the MOU’s impact on intra-Africa trade.

“Together, we will accelerate standardization activities to increase the competitiveness of African enterprises, strengthen regional value chains, and pave the way for Made in Africa goods and services,” he said.

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