By: Ebrima Darboe
The West Africa Competitiveness and Quality Infrastructure (WACQIC) project began a 4-day Technical Management Committee to review 31 draft EWOCAS standards relating to regional value chains – Mango, Cassava & Information and Communications Technologies – on Tuesday 21st March 2023 at Senegambia Beach Hotel.
Funded by the European Union and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), WACQIC aims to improve the competitiveness of West African enterprises, especially MSMEs, and deepen regional integration and the countries’ participation in the continental and international trading systems.
The identified standards are considered according to the ECOWAS Standards Harmonization Model (ECOSHAM). Thirty-one 31 of the ninety-one 91 standards in three three value chains have reached the step of validation by the Technical Management Committee of Ecowas Standards Harmonisation Model TMC/ECOSHAM.
The Technical Management Committee of Ecowas Standards Harmonisation Model has converged in Banjul on Tuesday, 21st March 2023, to validate draft standards in three three value chains within West Africa. The draft standards are submitted by the Department of Economic Affairs and Agriculture of the ECOWAS Commission for validation by the TMC/ECOSHAM.
The high-level meeting, organized by UNIDO, seeks to harmonize thirty-one 31 standards in the cassava, mango, and information and communication technology value chains in West Africa to promote regional integration in trade, investment, and economic development. The initiative also seeks to enhance the region’s quality infrastructure and competitiveness programs.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) works closely with the European Union and ECOWAS Commission to promote business development and industrialization within the ECOWAS region to enhance economic growth and sustainable development.
The Representative of UNIDO, Mr. Christian Lasser, believes that “Inclusion and sustainable industrialization is an important part of the way forward for the ECOWAS region and UNIDO encourages the ECOWAS Commission to support enterprises in their development and upgrading to improve their competitiveness.”
The European Union gives financial support for the creation and execution of programs aimed at improving quality infrastructure and competitiveness in West Africa, including national quality policies, establishing quality infrastructure institutions, and the designing technical regulations and standards.
“We believe that standard harmonization is crucial to improve the competitiveness and sustainability of mango, cassava, and information and communication technologies value chains,” Ms. Aisha Sillah, a representative of the European Union, told the meeting.
She emphasized that European Union is “confident that the validation of the draft standards will contribute to the achievement of those objectives and enhance West Africa’s competitiveness and facilitate the integration of the region in the global economy.”
Lassane Kabore of the Ecowas Commission underscored the importance of the convergence and urged participants to live up to expectations. He said the “development of a chain is significant to poverty reduction and creating employment” in the region.
The representative of the Gambia Government, Mr. Assan Gaye, emphasized that the “regional dynamic” initiated by the ECOWAS Commission must be supported with “innovative policies” to enhance the activities of local production units. He believes that will transform those production units into medium-sized enterprises and bridge the gap between them and multinational companies in the region.
He said The Gambia Government, therefore, urges the ECOWAS Commission to “accelerate the operationalization of ECOWAS Regional Quality Infrastructure structures for a better coordination of quality in the region for the benefit of regional companies, ECOWAS citizens, and the protection of the regional environment.”
The four-day validation meeting is organized by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and funded by the European Union (EU). The meeting starts on 21st March and ends on 24th March 2023 in Banjul, The Gambia.