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    Harmonized accreditation and standardization vital in boosting intra-Africa trade, experts

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    Somali Magazine-The African accreditation and standard regulators are in Nairobi for a five-day meeting in Nairobi to deliberate ways of enhancing intra-Africa trade through harmonization of standards of goods produced in the continent.
    The event brought together more than 100 delegates from accreditation and standard regulators across Africa to review ways to roll out the mutual recognition of product standards in the continent.
    Dr Juma Mukhwana, principal secretary in Kenya’s State Department for Industry while addressing the delegates at the assembly pointed out the existence of different product standards in Africa is one of the key impediments to intra-Africa trade.
    “We all believe that a unified product standards regime will foster trust in products made in Africa and facilitate trade not only within our borders but across the continent.”
    The PS remarks were echoed by Celestine Okanya, Director General of Nigeria National Accreditation System.
    He revealed that the continent has prioritized the harmonization of product standards in the region because it will enable enterprises, including small and medium-sized enterprises, to participate actively in the African Continental Free Trade Area and contribute to the economic transformation of the region.
    Okanya further added , “A joint product standards will be the catalyst that ensures the quality and safety of the products and services that flow within the expanded African market.”
    The development of product standards in Africa on a mutual recognition arrangement is a growth point as the mutual evaluation and acceptance of each other’s goods and services is based on agreed standards

    The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was a landmark trade agreement designed to promote economic integration and trade among African countries, but other factors like inefficient customs procedures, bureaucratic red tape, and lengthy delays at border crossings have held back the idea’s full uptake.
    Also thought to have held back its take-off is prolonged discussions on tariff offers for agricultural and sensitive goods.
    Among the non-tariff barriers are licensing requirements, technical standards, and sanitary and phytosanitary measures can be used to restrict trade.
    Others barriers include, political instability and geopolitical tensions in some African regions have also affected trade and investment of AfCFTA.

    South African National Accreditation System,chief executive officer- Mpho Phaloane also observed that the African quality policy, which aims at enhancing the quality of standards of goods produced in the continent will also strengthen the competitiveness of the continent’s products.
    He said that consistent product standards will lead to better integration into regional and international value chains that enhance trade and ensure sustainable development for the continent as a whole.
    Robin Neeren Gopee, director of the Mauritius Accreditation Service, said that coordinated product standards will enhance Africa’s competitiveness by offering proof that products and services adhere to the requirements of consumers, governments, and trade treaties.

    By Rading Biko

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